If there is one thing that America is known for, it’s high medical debt when people seek medical care. Medical costs are enormous, and many believe that they are out of control.

Did you know that 137 million Americans are struggling with some kind of medical debt? On top of that, high health care bills are a reason for individuals filing for bankruptcy or taking money from their retirement accounts early.

Research published in 2019 found that 66.5% of all bankruptcies were tied to medical issues, which makes sense considering the cost of medical care. Also, missing work because of medical problems can cause people to get behind on bills.

Why is health care so expensive?

Part of the reason health care is so expensive is that it’s not transparent. People are caught off-guard by bills and don’t know how much a single event could hurt them. Costs do vary widely, with a surgery at one hospital costing only $26,000, for example, with another costing $75,000 or more for the same procedure. That kind of price gouging is something patients have to watch out for. The disparity in price doesn’t necessarily reflect a difference in the care received.

Remember that you also have a right to negotiate your debts. Most medical bills are negotiable before you receive care, during care and after care. First, make sure everything on the bill is correct. If you can’t afford to pay, call and ask if there are charitable services or if you can qualify for forgiveness. If not, ask about a payment plan.

Taking care of yourself is important, so you shouldn’t let the fear of medical debt overwhelm you. If you need medical care, you have to get it. You can compare prices and negotiate to get the best rates, but if you find that you still can’t pay everything back, then you may want to start looking into alternative options. Bankruptcy is only a single method for helping people get out of debt, but it might be the right one for you.

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