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Negotiation can reduce medical bills, unmanageable debt

Being subjected to a serious illness or injury can be devastating for California residents. Not only do they and their families have to deal with the physical aspects of being sick or hurt, there are financial ramifications that will come on the heels of a serious medical event. In many cases, medical bills will create a situation of unmanageable debt, leading many people to seek bankruptcy protection. For those who would like to attempt to repay their medical debt, negotiation offers a chance to reduce the overall cost.

Many people are unaware that they have the ability to negotiate their medical costs. They receive the bill and assume that the amount posted is the final word on the matter. In reality, however, patients have a great deal of power in addressing their medical debt and can lower the bottom line considerably.

The best place to begin the negotiation process is to gain an understanding of the fair price of the procedures and care that they received. This can be accomplished by checking with one's insurance provider or using one of the many websites aimed at informing consumers about the cost of medical care. Once a patient is aware of how much their care should cost, they can begin negotiating with the care providers for reduced rates.

It can also be helpful to ask if there is a lower price for medical bills that are paid in cash. Many doctors and hospitals will accept a lower amount for an account that is paid in full and with cash, versus having to track down insurance and file the appropriate paperwork. This approach is most effective when completed prior to receiving care, which is not always possible.

Negotiation can have a significant impact on the bottom line for many California residents who find themselves in need of expensive medical care. In some cases, however, no amount of negotiation or good faith repayment efforts will suffice to eliminate the total medical debt burden. For those individuals, a faster and more certain path out of unmanageable debt is to seek personal bankruptcy protection.

Source:, "Negotiate your medical bills down", Cameron Huddleston, Jan. 20, 2016

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Thomas F. Miles, Attorney and Counselor at Law
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