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My younger sister was diagnosed in 11/99 with leukemia & miracuously survived the 2 harsh chemotherapy hospitalizations. She was retired from the Board of Ed on disability grounds 3/2000( former cafeteria employee). Her monthly retirement income is less than the continued health insurance premiums. Their annual income < $35,000. An outstanding $96,000 hospital bill remains(even after insurance payment)--her most pressing obstinate creditor. She is in remission, but still in weakened recommended applying for social security disability...which was done earlier this month at Social Security Adm. If it seems these actions are delayed, basically I suppose its because our family has been in shell-shock with the reeling news of this ravaging disease & its invasive treatments, etc. Even though sis has health insurance, the total $$ of medical bills are into 6 figures...& continued blood draws, transfusions, bone marrow taps will be a way-of-life for her...possibly even bone marrow transplant in the future.

My questions: 1) Is it too late to apply for government-type medical assistance to hopefully assist with these related expenses? 2)Would she even qualify for financial assistance since also has health insurance? 3)Where does one apply for financial assistance in the state of Maryland? 4)Johns Hopkins billing has mailed her a form to complete regarding their income/expenses--to see if qualify for adjusted payment schedule...also mentioning collection agency. 5)Should she complete this form & sign? she's apprehensive about trusting billing dept. 6)Is collection agency more flexible with $$ amount of monthly payment than facility billing dept? 7)Does dealing with collection agency damage one's credit record? 8)Should she continue & try to negotiate more reasonable payments with hospital, even if she applies for medical assistance? As she has discovered, bureaucratic red tape & paper chase is time-consuming process, not instant relief...Sis & husband dont want to file bankruptcy, so havent sought legal counsel.

This entire scenario is overwhelming, dealing with the reality of the ongoing mounting expenses. Sis is in remission, but VERY depressed upon seeing medical now contemplating refusing August bone marrow tap, feeling it would have been financially better had she died.

Any suggestions, referral sources, responses of encouragement will be gratefully received.

many thanks--apacherose
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