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Is there any way out of medical debt other than bankruptcy?

It's difficult to hide the shock of reading a medical bill for the first time. What you expected to be a $500 bill might be closer to $5,000 or even $50,000, especially if you had to be treated outside your insurance company's network.

Many people find medical debt hard to deal with because of its size. When you read a bill for $200 or $300, it's usually possible to see where you'd get money to pay for it. A bill for $4,000, similarly, is not insurmountable. However, once a bill reaches $10,000 or more, many people begin to worry that they'll never be able to pay it off.

The good news about medical debt is that negotiating is possible. Many medical providers offer their services, the same or similar services to what you received, at lower prices. If you can find local providers who are doing the same procedures for less, you may be able to negotiate a reduction in the amount you'll pay your provider.

Another possibility is offering to settle your debt for less if you pay cash. A medical office might be willing to settle a $10,000 debt for $7,000 if it's in cash. It would be guaranteed income, and if a patient is only making small payments to avoid collections, the $7,000 is going to work out much better for the medical team than waiting for $10,000 over the course of years.

If you're overwhelmed by medical debt, it's possible to get help. Your attorney can talk to you about different ways to approach, and eliminate, those debts.

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