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Those medical bills won't just go away; now's the time to get a handle on them

November 12, 2009 | 10:31 am

Blood Medical debt doesn't take care of itself. As with a serious illness, ignoring the symptoms will simply ensure more problems down the road.

So today, Families USA offers up tips on what to do about it. The advice from the organization, whose ultimate mission is affordable healthcare for all Americans, is practical and straightforward. It begins with, "Make sure the charges are correct," and ends with links to organizations that can provide additional services.

Here's the complete guide: Your Medical Bills: A Consumer’s Guide to Coping With Medical Debt.

For a general look at medical debt, from the Washington Post and Kaiser Health News, there's this: Americans ensnared by medical debt.

And here's a recent look specifically at California. This report, from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, finds that almost 1 in 7 nonelderly Californians has medical debt of one kind or another. It includes breakdowns by region and county.

And here's some more advice, from an article that first appeared in the L.A. Times' Health section: Negotiating Your Medical Bills.

It begins: "Unless you've been rushed to the hospital in an emergency, the time to start thinking about paying the bill for hospital care comes as soon as your doctor says you need to have a test, procedure or surgery."

-- Tami Dennis

Photo: When it comes to costs, and debt, those medical tests can add up.

Credit: John Moore / Getty Images