August 14th, 2013
| Supporter: Breast Cancer
Even after cancer survivors enter remission, they are faced with the harrowing task of managing medical bills. Read more to find out how to stay calm, positive and make sure that you don't overpay.
Before you tackle your medical bills after breast cancer, take a moment to put it all in context and consider how far you've come. If you're in remission, the bottom line is that you've made it through the worst part and you've come out stronger from the experience. Nothing can change that and nothing can take that from you. Now, the nuts and bolts of managing your medical bills can be a bit of a headache at times, but if you keep a cool head and think about how far you've come, it should be possible to stay positive and not pay a penny more than you owe.
Start With an Itemized Bill
You want to know every single charge that you incurred during your hospital stay. You have the right to request an itemized bill, and this will help you get started verifying, validating and negotiating every charge. When negotiating your bill, you may want to look for people who have graduated from medical billing and coding online schools who can help you to get a better deal on your bill for a small fee. Most of these people work for commission or an hourly wage, but some who are still new or students may be willing to charge a lower fee in exchange for the experience. It's been noted by Today.com that medical bills are actually a leading cause of personal bankruptcy in this country, so don't neglect the opportunity to actually lower the bill itself.
Prioritize Handling Debt
Managing the debt that you incur when you get out of the hospital is going to be a top priority, and one of the biggest goals in your life into the near future. Simply put, you don't want it hanging over your head. Bankruptcy is one option, but there may be a better way to handle the debt than to simply cut and run. One of the first things to do (as recommended by just about every reliable source on managing debt) is change your spending habits. Adopting a more minimalist lifestyle for a little while will be a tremendous help in finding the money to pay off your debt. You may also want to downsize. If you can move into a smaller home or stay with family for a little while as you save up, recover and get back on your feet, that will be a tremendous help. Every dollar paid toward getting rid of your debt can be a big help.
You had to get aggressive to fight your cancer, now you have to get aggressive to fight your medical expenses. Don't let this experience sink you. Negotiate and renegotiate your bill until you have terms that you're comfortable with. Don't settle, and don't be "nice" when it comes to making sure that your debt is settled. If there's the slightest inconsistency on your bill, contest it. Take the butt-kicking attitude you attacked breast cancer with and do the same to debt.
Dealing with breast cancer is frightening, but it doesn't have to break you. Breast cancer survivors —and this means you— are among the strongest people on the planet. Whether you're dealing with the disease itself or the financial costs that come with it, anything that does not kill you can only make you stronger.
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