Medical debt is one of the most common reasons why people may suffer unexpected financial hardship. This is true even for people with insurance policies, who may have high deductible plans or bills from out-of-network services. However, there are certain steps you could take to cut health care costs.
- Find a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) in your area. These are health centers that qualify for funding under the Public Health Service Act. FQHCs offer certain types of services on a sliding fee scale. This means that if you qualify for these sliding scale fees, you could receive discounted preventative, dental, mental health and specialty care services. To find an FHQC in your area, visit this website and type in your zip code. Call the center beforehand to ask which services they offer.
- If you have a health insurance policy, try to avoid out-of-network facilities, specialists or services. In non-emergency situations, you can call a hospital or health center beforehand to see if they accept your insurance. You should also make sure the specialists providing services are covered by your policy.
- If you are able, then you should stick to buying generic medications. These may be cheaper than brand-name medications, sometimes by hundreds of dollars. Some retailers may also offer cheaper prices for medications. For example, Costco over Walgreens or vice versa. You can call several pharmacies beforehand for a price quote.
The first two suggestions are especially important. Out-of-network services can cost you thousands of dollars and may exceed your out-of-pocket maximum. In such cases, it may be very difficult to pay down your medical bills. If you are simply looking for cheaper services and medications, the first and last suggestions may be helpful.
Can I Clear Medical Debt by Filing for Bankruptcy?
If you are already struggling to pay back medical bills and are experiencing wage garnishments or other serious consequences, then filing for bankruptcy may be an option. Medical bills are treated as nonpriority unsecured debt in bankruptcy and may be discharged.
The Kansas City bankruptcy attorneys at The Sader Law Firm can help you learn whether you have options for debt relief.