That gallbladder attack that led to the emergency surgery to remove your gallbladder hurt.

That hospital bill might be even more painful.

In the era of high deductibles, even Ohio residents with medical insurance can find themselves staring at a huge, unexpected bill, but there are ways to reduce the hurt of the medical bills.

If you’re faced with a big amount due to the local hospital, don’t panic.

Start by studying the bill, evaluating on its own – were you charged for a procedure you know you didn’t have? – and then making sure you weren’t billed for something twice. It can happen in the hospital or doctor’s office. Organize all the bills by date of service; that will help you remember details of your hospitalization or medical visit.

Jot down anything that looks off to you, then give the billing office a call to voice your concerns and ask the representative to explain the charge or to look into it. They’ll adjust it if they locate an error.

At the same time, you’ll want to review your insurance coverage to make sure you weren’t charged for a service that your insurance should have paid for. Your insurer will issue an explanation of benefits to you, so compare the procedure number on the bill to the explanation you receive. Call your insurance company to ask questions.

And if your company declines the treatment, file an appeal promptly. There usually is a limit on the time you have to appeal.

Once you’ve scoured the bill and had any inaccuracies fixed, it’s time to contact the hospital or doctor and ask for relief. Tell the representative just what you earn and how much you can pay. After thanking the provider for the care, don’t hesitate to ask for a reduction of the bill. Many administrators will work with you.

Or, many providers will accept a payment plan. Figure out what you can afford after you’ve paid your necessities each month: food, shelter, transportation, utilities, clothing and taxes.

It usually is devastating to receive a bill you just can’t pay, and if the medical providers won’t work you, you probably will feel you have nowhere to turn. A consultation with an attorney who has experience in debt reduction and bankruptcy matters will be able to help you figure out just what options you have when the bills have you down.