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Negotiate To Lower Your Medical Debt

Negotiating with your doctor or hospital can definitely help you lower your medical bills. Many people don't think of negotiating this way. You can negotiate with the seller when purchasing a home, and you negotiate on the price of a car - and you can surely negotiate with your doctor or hospital regarding medical debt. You have a good chance to get your debt under control and to stay away from filing for bankruptcy. Paying by credit card is not the answer because you cut your options or ability to negotiate with your medical professional, as the credit card company holds your debt now.

So How Do You Negotiate Medical Debt?

Do Your Research First

Understand that there is an act called the "Fair Debt Collection Act" that requires debt collectors to "treat you fairly and prohibits certain methods of debt collection." Next, make sure to double check all medical charges you have received from your bills. Sometimes before negotiating it is best to get an "itemized bill" so you can see all the things you were charged for in detail. Make sure you were only charged for the services given to you. An itemized bill is needed because many doctors, hospitals and pharmacists make mistakes. With Medicaid, check your bill and make sure that you were not billed more than what is allowed. In the case of private insurance, make sure you review all your health insurance coverage, because sometimes some or all of the balance could be paid for by your health insurance company.

Approach Negotiation With The Right Style

Make sure to be delicate in your negotiation approach. For example, if you want bank to waive a bank fee, yelling at the customer service rep is less likely to lead to the removal of your fee than keeping calm and yet still direct. Explain to your hospital or doctor why you can't pay. Usually they will understand if you have valid or reasonable reasons. You effectively need to prove that the charges received are too high for the income and expenses you have. Keep your cool as you want to sound in control, which only helps you in the negotiation process.

Requirements During The Process

First, act quickly, and be proactive. Second, Make sure to keep in contact with your creditors (organizations you owe money to such as physician, doctor, medical organization or hospital) and record all of the names and phone numbers of anyone you speak or spoke to. Make sure you document all the things you did, when you did them, and the outcome. If you have a call with a creditor, then try to record it if your state allows it as 35 states do. Third, never negotiate over the phone, or make sure any agreements or terms or via email or snail mail.

What To Strive For In Negotiation

First, you want to aim at having as many medical fees or underpayment penalties associated with your balance removed or reduced. Second, you want to negotiate a payment plan. Your physician, doctor, medical organization or hospital will often times take smaller payments over a longer period of time than have you not pay at all -- so try strive for a reasonable payment plan or one that you can afford. If you do reach an agreement with your creditor (payment plan or payment in full), document it and send it to your creditor. If you are paying by check add to it "Cashing Check Constitutes Payment In Full." Third, never take the first offer you get if they are eager. You need to sense how eager or quickly they respond with an offer because if you can get a 2nd or 3rd one they usually improve. The tough part is knowing when you should take an agreement or request a better offer. Lastly, if all else fails remember you can always threaten with bankruptcy for a payment plan or better agreement because usually with bankruptcy -- the creditor is less likely to get paid or paid the whole amount anyway.