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Negotiations may lead to lower medical debt obligations

Many people in Wisconsin are not prepared for the costs of medical procedures. While a visit to an emergency room can cost as much as $700, a hospital can charge up to $10,000 for labor and delivery of a baby, and thousands of dollars can be charged for surgical procedures. However, it is not common knowledge that these fees can be negotiated. The Commonwealth Fund conducted a survey that indicated that 64 million Americans are battling overwhelming medical debt.

It was said that healthcare providers sometimes agree to lower a bill by as much as 50 to 80 percent. It is not uncommon for consumers to shop around for best prices before major purchases, so why not do the same with medical care? With the help of insurance providers and several Internet sources, providers who charge fair prices can be identified, and if such a provider is not in the required network, the lower prices can be used in negotiations with accepted providers.

Negotiating before receiving treatment -- unless in emergencies -- is said to be more effective than trying to get charges reduced later. Also, some providers offer significantly lower prices for patients who can pay cash, and those without insurance are free to negotiate lower prices for cash payments. Even if prices were not negotiated prior to treatment, requests for lower prices could still be made with the providers. Explaining the circumstances and offering to pay a fair price may bring about the desired results.

If, even after all negotiation efforts, the medical debt remains insurmountable, personal bankruptcy might be considered. An experienced Wisconsin bankruptcy attorney can explain how medical debt can be resolved through one of the options under the Bankruptcy Code. A lawyer can assist a client in determining whether he or she will be eligible to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, in which all medical debt will be discharged, or Chapter 13 that will allow the client to pay over an extended period of three to five years according to a court-approved payment plan.

Source:, "How to Negotiate Hospital Bills", Cameron Huddleston, Jan. 11, 2016

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