Article written by Columbia, SC bankruptcy lawyer Daniel Stone

Unfortunately, medical debt is a major reason for people filing for bankruptcy protection in the United States. For many of my clients, there is no way around a major medical issue. But for some, either some pre-planning on medical insurance or learning how to negotiate with medical providers can help. Here are some practical ways to decrease medical costs:

1. Medical insurance. This may seem obvious but many of us elect not to have medical insurance to shave off some short-term expenses. While you maybe saving some money in the short-term, we all have medical issues and emergencies that happen. At the very least, look for an umbrella policy to help you in the event of a catastrophic medical event.

2. Stay in shape. When I was in the military, we had to spend time doing preventative maintenance on the military vehicles. The theory is that the more time spent on keeping equipment in tip-top shape, the less time in the future the equipment will be down. Think of your body as equipment. The more time you spend doing routine exercise and eating right, the less likely you will be in the hospital or doctor’s office. In addition, if you have medications, take them as prescribed!

3. Ask for an itemized bill. Don’t be scared to ask for an itemized  bill from your hospital or doctors office. Many times the medical provider will double dip or make errors on your bill.

4. Ask for a payment plan or discount. After your insurance has paid their portion, don’t be scared to call the hospital and ask for a reduced rate on your portion still be owed. Remember that the only bad question is the one not asked. All they can say is no.

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