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Hospitals putting a high price on health

When you or a loved one gets hurt or sick, the top priorities are to get help and get better. Most people generally do not think about the cost of care when they are on their way to the hospital. Instead, they are often overwhelmed with feelings of fear and anxiety.

Weeks after a doctor visit or surgical procedure, many patients will experience a second round of feeling fear and anxiety. But this time it is in relation to the enormous medical bills they have just gotten in the mail. Many people across New Hampshire are often shocked to see just how much they are being charged by hospitals and clinics. 

Overall, health care is too high for U.S. families. Hospitals have the capacity to charge whatever they want for the care they provide and many people say this is unfair. For example, prices for a stitches or a pain pill at one hospital could be much higher than the exact same stitches or pills at a hospital across town. This discrepancy makes it nearly impossible for the average patient to know what to expect when it comes to medical bills. Unfortunately, many facilities use this to their advantage. 

In order to make a profit, hospitals across the country have increased prices on even the smallest items and pass that cost onto the patient. For example, getting medical care for a cut finger could cost a New Hampshire family an average of about $790. Much of this money is paid not to the doctors treating the wound, but to the hospital.

This is a very troubling scenario for people who may already be struggling to make ends meet. In the time it takes a child to fall and bump her head or over the course of a day spent in a hospital, a person could end up owing thousands of dollars for necessary medical care. Between unexpected illnesses or injuries and the unpredictability of hospital fees, a family could quickly wind up buried under mounting debt.

However, there are ways to deal with this situation and find some relief from debt and harassing creditors. With the help of an attorney, a person can explore debt relief options, including various forms of bankruptcy. Taking action can help people get back on their feet and make a fresh financial start.

Source: The New York Times, "As Hospital Prices Soar, a Stitch Tops $500," Elisabeth Rosenthal, Dec. 2, 2013

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