Some of the most significant and necessary expenses a person can be required to pay are related to medical costs. A sudden or serious illness can result in huge medical bills that can send a person who is financial healthy plummeting into debt.

When people receive a medical bill in the mail, they can be shocked at how much they owe. This type of sticker shock can make it easier for people to just ignore the bill; out of sight, out of mind. But this can prove to be a serious mistake. Rather than avoid or ignore these bills, it can be crucial to deal with them before missed payments or debts pile up, especially because there is a very real possibility that a bill contains at least one error.

According to recent reports, medical billing errors were found on nearly 50 percent of bills and in roughly 80 percent of Medicare claims. The errors identified include mistakes like:

  • Charges for tests or procedures that were never performed
  • Charges for expenses that should be covered by insurance
  • Duplicate charges or separate charges that should be billed together
  • Significant discrepancies in costs for treatments by area
  • Overcharging for items, medications or procedures

What these mistakes have the power to do is either squeeze more money out of patients that they do not owe or make it more likely that a person will ignore the bill because they think they cannot pay. Either situation can lead to disputes and collections, which can lead to even more serious financial repercussions.

In order to prevent a bad situation from getting worse, it can be crucial that you ask questions and get help if you are unsure about what you actually owe in medical bills. This can help you avoid having to pay penalties or take on more debt.

However, if you are already struggling with mounting debt including and in addition to medical debt, you should seriously consider discussing your situation with an attorney who can explain the debt relief options available and help you get out of an undoubtedly upsetting situation.

Source: TIME, “The Danger Lurking in Your Medical Bills,” Katherine Hobson, April 21, 2015