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Can I reduce my existing medical debt?

Unfortunately, medical, dental and vision care can be quite costly, making it difficult for consumers to pay down the accumulated debt. Even insurance does not always provide Americans with the security it once represented. While insurance does help, having a good policy does not necessarily mean all medical bills are paid. This is especially true for older residents in Pittsburgh, but all age groups often experience difficulty paying down medical debt.

As you probably already know, unpaid medical debt can lead to aggressive collection attempts that can derail your life and steal your security. While the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act helps protect consumers from unsavory collection attempts, the debt does not go away on its own.

As far as whether it is possible to reduce existing medical debt, the answer is probably, provided your healthcare providers are open to discussion and/or negotiation. Here are a few tips you can use with healthcare providers who are open to a discourse about your medical bills.

First, carefully review your bills to make sure no errors are present. Make sure the charges reflect the treatments you actually received.

Some payment is better than no payment at all and many providers are open to negotiating bills. Consider reaching out to your providers to talk about bill negotiations.

If you are unable to pay off your bills at once, speak with your providers about establishing a payment plan. Make sure the plan fits with your ability to pay.

Seek assistance when you cannot pay your medical debt. Examples include social service agencies and government assistance programs.

If despite your best attempts, you cannot recover from your debt, consider discussing legal options like bankruptcy with a Pittsburgh-based attorney.

Source: CreditCards.com, "15 tips for paying high medical bills," Connie Prater, accessed Jan. 18, 2016

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