Nobody plans to go to the emergency room, but perhaps you should. Do you know which hospitals or urgent care centers are in your network, for example?
This post comes from Gerri Detweiler at Credit.com.
Michelle wants to buy a home but can’t get a loan. The problem? An emergency room bill from six years ago that is listed on her credit reports as severely past due. John is fighting a $406 bill he received after being seen in the ER for what the doctor diagnosed as a case of the flu. And Jerry is struggling to pay over $1,300 in ER co-pays on his limited Social Security income. These are just a few of the stories readers have shared with us describing their debt problems following a medical emergency.
While someone with a serious or chronic medical problem might expect to wind up in the emergency room or hospital periodically, no one plans to get the flu, break a bone or get in a car accident.
More than 54 million people reported having trouble paying medical bills at the start of 2012, according toa survey from the Centers for Disease Control. And medical bills are often cited as a major contributor to bankruptcy.
How can you prepare so that a medical emergency doesn't wipe you out financially? Here are six strategies:
1. Research local hospitals
When our reader Quentin's daughter injured her ankle, he and his wife took her to the emergency room. They suspected a broken ankle. After X-rays were taken, they were told their daughter had no broken bones, and she was sent home with an ankle brace. Quentin got a bill for $1,500 from the hospital and an additional $950 from the doctor before discovering the hospital was not a "preferred hospital" nor was the doctor a preferred provider. After an appeal, the insurer agreed to pay the hospital bill, but just $250 of the doctor bill.
A quarter of all US renters spend at least half of their paychecks on housing. If you're barely getting by, will you ever get ahead?
Do you make $18.79 an hour? If not, good luck finding an affordable apartment.
One common guideline is that a rental shouldn't cost more than 30% of your income. By that standard, you'd have to earn a minimum of $18.79 per hour to afford a decent place to live, according to the 2013 "Out of Reach" study from the National Low Income Housing Coalition.
Trouble is, the average renter earns $14.32 per hour.
Study authors say these numbers highlight the challenges faced by lower-income renters: "Increasing rents, stagnating wages, and a shortage of affordable housing."
How much are they spending? Too much.
Personal finance experts recount their favorite pieces of financial advice from their fathers.
Everyone becomes an expert not just from their training or education but because of their influences in life. We are who we are because of everything we experience, but arguably, nobody influences us more than our parents. In honor of Father's Day, we're offering up money tips from the fathers of personal finance professionals throughout the country.
"Make money every chance you can."
"As a factory worker, overtime work was the only opportunity to earn extra income for the family, so my dad would work 12- to 16-hour days, seven days a week, when given the chance. My dad would always say when you work and can pay your own bills that you are free from others telling you how to live."
-- Gerard Olson is a finance professor at Villanova School of Business in Villanova, Penn. His father, Joseph, was a combat wounded World War II veteran. Olson adds of his father: "I saw my dad in a lot of pain through the years resulting from his leg amputation and other war-related ailments, but he took great pride that he never missed a day of work, except to go fishing, of course." Joseph Olson passed away in 2009.
The writing is on the 'wall' - financial agencies may soon be using your online presence to help determine your credit worthiness.
Not a lot of us understand where our credit scores comes from. We pretty much get that it has to do with paying our bills on time. We know that it's hard to repair once damaged and we know that, by and large, it's pretty important. Beyond that the pieces that move in the background are, usually, pretty much a mystery.
Well, things may be about to get even more complicated, as financial agencies have begun exploring social media to verify identities and evaluate your credit score.
As Bloomberg News reported last week, payment and credit reporting agencies have begun testing ways to integrate social media, such as Facebook, Twitter and personal blogs, into the financial process. The goal is to find new sources of information to help determine an individual's creditworthiness, as well as to confirm people's identities online.
After 5 fatalities and a long battle with federal safety authorities, the makers of Nap Nanny agree to pull the product.
In an unusual step, the CPSC in December sued Baby Matters LLC of Berwyn, Pa., over its failure to acknowledge the product was dangerous and for refusing to announce a recall. Since 2009, Nap Nanny and Nap Nanny Chill have been connected to five deaths and 92 other incidents, the CPSC said.
Rupert Murdoch is putting billions at risk in his planned divorce of his third wife. Here are other high-profile and costly split-ups.
Word that News Corp. Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch is planning to divorce his third wife, Wendi Deng, got us thinking about the high cost of splitting up.
Even with a prenuptial agreement, Murdoch, 82, could be in for a costly and painful legal battle to protect his global empire, worth an estimated $9.4 billion.
Divorce rarely makes economic sense at any income level, but as Woody Allen once said, "The heart wants what it wants."
Here, in reverse order of course, is our list of the top 10 most expensive divorces, according to Reuters, CNBC and Forbes:
Buying or selling a house soon? What you don't know about the industry could cost you. Your real estate agent won't tell you, but we will.
This post comes from Angela Colley at partner site Money Talks News.
Unless you have a lot of free time, or don't care about getting the best deal, real estate agents are a necessary part of buying or selling a house. They know the industry in and out and make the task a lot easier for you.
But, as with any special service or skill you pay for, what you don't know can cost you.
Check the fine print to see what perks you might not have known you had, and be sure you travel with a backup card, for starters.
This post comes from David Parreco at the Dough Roller.
Simply having a travel rewards credit card doesn’t mean that you are maximizing the benefit. While most of you probably know that these credit cards accumulate frequent flier miles, there are many lesser-known perks that could help you get the most from your credit card.
1. Check for 'secret' travel perks
On the surface, travel rewards cards allow you to generate frequent flier miles, but if you dig deeper, there are numerous other features that could help you on your travels. For example, you might be able to receive priority boarding, a free checked bag, discounts on in-flight food, drinks and Wi-Fi, as well as access to airport lounges during long layovers.
So before you plan your next vacation, you may want to contact your credit card providers to find out what perks they offer because you could save a good chunk of change on your trip.
2. Ask about foreign transaction fees
If you plan to travel outside the U.S., you should contact your credit card company to see what their policy is on foreign transaction fees.
Some card issuers charge a fee for every transaction made overseas, but many have been eliminating this cost. If your card does charge foreign transaction fees, don’t worry -- there are ways around them. One method is to have your purchases charged in U.S. dollars by the merchant.
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ABOUT SMART SPENDING
Editor Bev O'Shea lives and works in the foothills of the Appalachians. A former copy editor for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Orlando Sentinel, she joined MSN Money in 2007. She's a fan of sunsets, college football and free shipping, among other things.
Having worked as a writer, reporter and editor for more than 25 years, Editor Julie Tilsner is the sort of person who can't help but correct grammar in Facebook postings and on billboards. She's written for BusinessWeek, the Los Angeles Times, Parenting, Redbook, AOL and others. She lives in Los Angeles County with her family and loves to drink wine and practice yoga, although not generally at the same time.
A writer for MSN Money since January 2007, Donna Freedman won regional and national prizes during an 18-year newspaper career and earned a college degree in midlife without taking out student loans. She also writes about smart money tactics for magazines and on her own site, Surviving and Thriving.
Mitch Lipka has been warning people about scams and shining light on questionable business practices for more than 20 years. Mitch, the consumer columnist for The Boston Globe, has also been a reporter and editor at The Philadelphia Inquirer, Consumer Reports, South Florida Sun-Sentinel and AOL. He won the 2010 New York Press Club award for best consumer reporting online and was honored in 2011 for his reporting on child product safety.
Marilyn Lewis is an award-winning writer with a passion for getting readers clear, straight information that helps them stay out of financial trouble. A former reporter for The San Jose Mercury News, she works from her home in Port Townsend, Wash. Contact her at MarilynLewis@Outlook.com.
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