It seems like everyone has a story about being hit with exorbitant medical costs. As one of the only developed countries with a profit-driven healthcare system, the U.S. is home to countless citizens who are struggling with medical debt. When faced with unmanageably pricey medical bills, many of us have a tendency to simply ignore the problem and hope it will go away on its own. While this mindset is understandable, it’s hardly conducive to getting rid of medical debt. So, if you’re tired of allowing unpaid medical bills to be a thorn in your side, consider the following measures.

Request That Medical Bills Be Cogently Explained

The overwhelming majority of medical bills in the U.S. contain errors. With errors being present in upwards of 80% of medical bills, it stands to reason that this statistic applies to a fair number of the bills you’ve received. So, the next time you receive an exorbitant medical bill – or any medical bill, for that matter – don’t hesitate to contact the provider and request that every item on the bill be clearly explained to you. If an item can’t be explained, it likely can’t be justified – and if it can’t be justified, you shouldn’t be expected to pay for it.

Stay on Top of Preventative Care

Preventative care should be a priority for everyone – especially people looking to avoid massive medical debt. In essence, preventative care entails having small issues treated before they have the opportunity to become costlier, more serious problems. This is where staying current with annual physicals and remaining in regular contact with your doctor can prove particularly useful. While this may entail spending a little bit of money, the amount you’ll part with is liable to pale in comparison to the cost of treating a long-term illness.

So, if you’ve lost touch with your general practitioner (GP) or lack a GP altogether, it’s time to make things right. For example, healthcare seekers in the Cincinnati metro area who are in need of general family medical practice Norwood can easily find an array of convenient options.

See if You Qualify for Medicaid

Medicaid is the U.S.’s public health insurance program, which provides crucial coverage to millions of low-income Americans. Additionally, many people who meet the Medicaid qualifications of their respective states are completely unaware of their eligibility. So, even if you don’t think you qualify, there’s certainly no harm in doing a little research and making the appropriate inquiries.

To help determine whether or not you qualify, visit your state’s Medicaid website and carefully review the criteria for eligibility. If you lack regular access to the Internet and/or a working computer, consider visiting your local welfare office and speaking to a representative. There’s also a good chance that someone there will be able to guide you through the application process. Additionally, since Medicaid coverage is often retroactive, you may be able to apply it to past bills – not just ones you incur after obtaining coverage.

See if You Qualify for Financial Aid Through Your Healthcare Provider

Many healthcare providers in the U.S. offer convenient financial aid options to uninsured, underinsured and low-income patients. However, as is the case with Medicaid, many of the people who are eligible to receive this aid are oblivious to this fact. In many cases, this can be attributed to reluctance on the part of providers to openly advertise financial aid programs. If you’re unclear on whether your healthcare provider offers financial aid, visiting their website may provide the answers you seek. You can also try calling the provider and asking to be connected to the financial aid department.

The level of financial aid people are eligible to receive through these programs varies from provider to provider – and often from patient to patient. For example, depending on your income level and/or insurance situation, your benefits may range from sizable discounts to complete debt forgiveness. Furthermore, like Medicaid coverage, the benefits from these programs can often be used retroactively.

Medical debt is a source of relentless stress for countless Americans. Even a single medical expense can place a tremendous strain on your finances, particularly if you lack the right type of insurance coverage. While simply ignoring mounting medical bills can certainly be tempting, this approach stands to result in even more stress down the line. Anyone looking to get a handle on medical debt would do well to heed the pointers discussed above.

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