Health care is expensive, even for Alabama patients who have health insurance. The costs associated with a hospital stay, unexpected illness or emergency room visit can be astronomical, and the bills can just keep adding up. It’s common for medical bills to quickly wipe out savings and outpace someone’s ability to make payments or pay down the balances at all.

Medical debt is one of the most common sources of financial trouble. A family who has a significant amount of medical bills may be unable to meet other financial needs, and the result can be crushing debt without any hope of ever getting ahead. Sometimes, past-due medical bills can end up in collections, only adding more stress to an already stressful financial situation.

What happens in collections?

A hospital, care provider or creditor can send a medical bill to collections even after one missed payment. Even if a patient is making payments on the bill, it can still end up in collections. This is why it is essential to get payment agreements in writing. One important thing to note for everyone who is seeking medical care or will need care in the future is that insurance does not always pay for everything. It is not surprising or unusual to get bills after returning home.

When a patient gets a medical bill, it’s prudent to go over it carefully. Billing errors are common, and you have the right to an accounting of everything billed to your account for which you’re expected to pay. You can also compare your bills with what the hospital or care provider sent to the insurance company. It may also be appropriate to ask the insurance company for a reconsideration of a denied claim. Most care providers will set up payment plans for patients.

When your efforts are not enough 

Even if you have the opportunity to save and prepare before you seek medical care, it may not be enough to shield you from overwhelming medical debt. You may find yourself with more debt than you can hope to manage, and this is in addition to your other financial responsibilities.

If you are in this situation, it may be helpful to consider the benefits of filing for consumer bankruptcy. This process may not be your first choice, but it can offer you the opportunity to deal with your medical bills once and for all. An assessment of your case with an attorney can identify your options and help you choose the most appropriate way forward.