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How to handle those overwhelming medical bills

According to a recently-published study, at least 25 percent of those from either the Millennial or GenX population find themselves encumbered by medical bills. These same groups, which cover the 18- to 50-year-old demographic, comprise the population with the highest medical debt among any generational group as well.

While an initial thought process may lead one to conclude that the debt amassed by this population has a lot to do with a lack of health insurance, that's only part of the problem. Also on the rise are medical provider networks, like PPOs and HMOs, that restrict which doctors a patient can see. Even if insured, a patient who sees an out-of-network provider can pay a hefty sum for doing so.

If there's one thing about medical costs, it's not only that they are pricey, but if they're not addressed, they'll quickly be turned over to collections. Once turned over to bill collectors, they can haunt you for a long time into the future. Being proactive in addressing them is critical.

One of the first things you should look to do when you first receive a bill is to look for errors. This is because, according to the non-profit credit counseling agency Clearpoint, more than 80-percent of these types of bills are replete with errors. In looking for errors on your bill, you're going to want to view an itemized version of it and cross-check it with your insurance company's Explanation of Benefits to ensure your charges and coverage allocations line up.

You might also want to check and make sure the procedure codes on the bill line up with the services you actually received. Checking to see if you were double charged for a procedure is also something to look out for as well.

If the bill is much larger than you have the ability to pay, you might find it beneficial to consult the Healthcare Bluebook, a manual which compiles average prices for different medical procedures or services per area. If your billed amount and what is listed are not in alignment, you may be able to negotiate a new price. If you're unable to renegotiate, though, paying what you can shows that you're making an effort, something that might stave off creditors.

If you are encumbered with overwhelming medical debt, a Knoxville bankruptcy attorney can provide you with guidance as to how to address your outstanding legal issues.

Source: forbes.com, "How to handle a surprise medical bill and keep and help keep health costs under control," Cathie Ericson, accessed April 20, 2017

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