Dealing with Medical Debt

AIDS Legal Services Project


Medical Debt

When you have been ill and perhaps even hospitalized, the last thing you want to deal with are the confusing, mind-blowing bills and insurance statements that inevitably follow. But like all other bills you are struggling to pay and understand, try not to ignore these bills while you recuperate and know that there is help if you need it.


Need Help?
Sometimes you need help deciphering bills, negotiating with providers, and navigating the healthcare bureaucracy. Consider contacting one of these non-profit organizations.

Need Help
• Many strategies on discounted or even free care found HERE
• Reputable agencies that can help organize your bills, make a budget, and set up payment plans if needed, can be found HERE
• Call Health Consumer Center of Los Angeles at 800-896-3203 or visit www.healthconsumer.org

Contact the Hospital Ombudsman or Patient Advocate if you were hospitalized

Carefully review all medical bills

Mistakes, double-dipping and overcharges are a common problem with medical bills

Get an itemized invoice

Check for duplicate charges

Call the billing office for explanation of codes or medical jargon that you don’t understand

Look for unreasonably high charges

CA Hospital Fair Pricing Act places limit on charges for self-paying patients

Take notes and write down any questions you have

Negotiate your medical bill

Contact your medical provider before the bill is delinquent to discuss your options

Ask for a discount on your medical bill

• Discounts may be available if you are able to make a prompt payment
• If possible, offer to make a down payment for a discount

Ask for a payment plan – remember creditors prefer to receive SOMETHNG, even a small amount, rather than nothing at all

Ask about low-income programs (Medi-Cal, SCHIP, Hospital charity care, Local clinics)

Ensure your health insurer is paying their portion

Make sure the medical provider has billed the insurer

Medical providers may bill you if not paid by insurer

Getting paid by insurer will maximize your options and prevent interruption of treatment

Contact insurer to find out why a bill has not been paid

If necessary, file a grievance with the insurer immediately

• Check the insurer’s plan or website to determine proper procedure


Disclaimer- The content here on this website is informational only and is not an exhaustive review of consumer debt issues nor is it intended to be legal advice. The intent is to provide you with general information to better understand your situation and the tools available to take action if needed. This website contains links to other third-party websites. Such links are only for your convenience; we do not recommend or endorse the contents of the third-party sites. You should contact an attorney to obtain advice with respect to your particular legal matter. Use of, and access to, this website or any of the links or resources contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship between you and LACBA Counsel for Justice, its employees or volunteers.

THE CONTENT FOUND HERE WAS CURRENT AT THE TIME OF WRITING (MAY 2020). LAWS AND LEGAL PROCEDURES ARE SUBJECT TO FREQUENT CHANGE AND DIFFERING INTERPRETATIONS. YOU SHOULD SEEK THE COUNSEL OF AN ATTORNEY TO RECEIVE LEGAL ADVICE SPECIFIC TO YOUR SITUATION.