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Arizona residents: some tips to lower your medical bills

You may have heard all the warnings to go over your medical bills carefully to ensure you aren't being double-charged for procedures and, to the extent possible, to get information about the true cost of your medicines, procedures and instruments so you can be in a better bargaining position.

Unfortunately, staying on top of your medical bills does not always lower them -- an unexpected or serious medical condition may require expensive treatment that turns out not to be fully covered by insurance and ends up being sent to collection agencies. Sometimes, it is in your best interest to wipe out unmanageable medical bills and stop creditor harassment by filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Arizona residents can, however, take a few steps to try to stay on top of their overwhelming medical bills. The most important step is to look for billing errors. Patients should match every hospital, lab or doctor bill with the statement of Explanation of Benefits to see what they were reimbursed for. Items such as meals, treatments, medicines, duplicate charges and room rates should be studied carefully to ensure they are not being charged twice. If something is not clear, asking for a copy of the medical chart, pharmacy ledger or itemized copy of the bill is your right, and you should take advantage of it.

Hospitals are like any other creditor in that they turn unpaid bills over to collection agencies. Instead of ignoring bills that cannot be paid, patients should consider negotiating with healthcare agencies to work out a repayment plan including reduced payments. Hospitals often have assistance programs -- patients should not hesitate from inquiring whether they qualify for financial help from the hospital, government or a charity.

In addition to this, taking steps such as comparing service prices and healthcare providers, keeping track of medical bills and checking qualification for government sponsored health programs, may help reduce medical bills.

However, regaining their health should not mean the end of Arizona resident's financial life. If they continue to struggle with their payments they should not hesitate from taking steps towards reestablishing their financial life by filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Once they pass the income requirements to become eligible for filing, they can begin their life anew.

Source: Huffington Post, "What happens when you can't pay your medical bills," Jason Alderman, July 27, 2012