Most Mississippians know that large medical bills can cause serious financial problems. However, even small bills of less than $1,000 can be sent to collection agencies and end up as negative entries on credit reports. In fact, a recent study published in Health Affairs found that more than half of medical collections in any given year are for less than $600. More than 2 percent of adults also had medical collections of less than $200 on their credit reports in 2016.

Even though older people have more medical problems, young people are more affected by medical debt, according to the study. Men and women in their late 20s are three times as likely to have a medical bill sent to collections than people in their late 60s. One cause of this is Medicare, but research also shows that medical debt declines as adults get older before being eligible for Medicare.

Advisers recommend that people take action with their medical bills when they first arrive to avoid a negative impact on their credit reports. Billing departments are often willing to work with patients to get bills paid in full before they go to collections. They can provide flexible payment plans or connect patients with sources of discounts or charity.

Individuals facing medical debt can experience a lot of financial stress, but relief is available. A law firm that focuses on giving fresh starts to people with financial challenges related to medical care may be able to provide a variety of solutions. There are counseling services, repayment plans, debt consolidation and even loans. In some cases, it may be in the best interest of a client to take advantage of bankruptcy protection.

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