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Humongous Medical Bills

What happens if you are required to undergo an unexpected surgery for which your insurance coverage may be limited or non-existent? As an example, assume you are 39 and you are changing jobs. You have been on the new job for 10 days and as part of your new insurance plan the insurance company offers a routine checkup at no cost. You have no problems, so you undergo this exam. It is discovered that you have a brain tumor requiring surgery. The insurance company for the new employer declines to cover you and your hospital bill grows to $190,000.

Are you prepared for this situation? What should you do and what can happen to your assets and your family?

In a manner similar to that described in the section above titled "Judgments in Excess of Insurance" the hospital [loosely called the hospital here, but technically including all of the doctors, labs, therapy and all other bills associated with this surgery] will become a creditor of yours. This means that if you have not worked out a payment plan with them, or have not settled the actual amount you will pay them, they can seek to collect this amount from your assets. As discussed in the section above, in some states, your assets can be seized and your wages can be garnished in accordance with state law.

The same principles discussed above are applicable to this outstanding bill. The hospital must obtain a court-ordered judgment and follow all of the procedures set forth in the post-judgment proceedings of your state's laws. You have all of the rights discussed above and can take steps allowed by your state's laws to avoid, delay, or in some manner adjust what can be taken from you to satisfy the hospital bill.

Either way, judgments from accident cases or from devastating emergency surgeries can ruin you and your family financially. Thus, you should be certain about your insurance coverage for these contingencies. While we all think these things are "flukes" and "will never happen to us", in fact, they do.

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