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Protect yourself from incorrect medical bills

Getting medical bills in the mail isn't something that anyone enjoys. When those bills are coming in during a time of financial stress, you might be ready to just give up on them. Knowing how to deal with medical bills so that you aren't paying more than you should is a good skill to have.

Your role in negotiating medical bills actually starts before you even have a medical procedure done. You should make sure that you understand what costs you are going to be responsible for. Find out what the cost of the procedure is, what your insurance will cover and what you will have to pay.

Once you know the cost of the procedure, you can ask if you are going to qualify for discounts on the bill. This can sometimes be the case if you simply call and ask for a discount. If your income is below a certain level, you might qualify for charity care. Charity care can lead to significant discounts or write-offs.

It is important for you to get an itemized statement for any medical bills that you are responsible for because the bill you receive might contain errors that you wouldn't ever know about if you didn't see those itemized charges. Double check every line on the itemized statement. Make sure that you aren't being charged for procedures or medications that you didn't receive. Balance billing, mismatched coding, unbundling, duplicate billing and upcoding are some of the issues that might occur.

If you think that your medical bills are going to drive your finances into the ground even if you are able to negotiate a lower medical bill, you might decide to find relief through bankruptcy. Be sure that you understand your rights and the ways that bankruptcy might affect you.

Source: Money, "7 Smart Ways to Negotiate Your Medical Bills," Mikey Rox, accessed June 28, 2016

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