These are tough times. To help, we have offered advice in the Business section this month. Today's is the final installment.
Problem: You're overwhelmed by unpaid hospital bills.
Solution: Your hospital may be willing to give you a discount on the bill in exchange for your agreeing to set up a payment plan or pay some costs upfront. If you're uninsured, appeal to your hospital's sense of fairness, noting that the uninsured are often charged far more than the insured for the same services.
Also, request a copy of your hospital's financial-assistance policies and look into charity care. If you qualify for Medicaid, the program often pays for care retroactively. Seek help from consumer groups. Some organizations include the Medical Billing Advocates of America, Access Project and Patient Advocate Foundation.
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Try to avoid putting medical bills on credit cards or using home loans to pay them off. The consequences of not paying credit-card companies or home lenders – such as high interest rates or even foreclosure – can be greater than those from not paying hospitals.
If collection agencies come calling, promptly send the collector a letter requesting verification of the debt. Then, the collector can't resume collection activities until it sends you confirmation of the debt. Wall Street Journal