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TEAM MEMBER SPOTLIGHT

2011 November 1 by

Kristen Fundenberger

Pre-Filing Paralegal

 

1. Tell me about your role at Bankruptcy Law Professionals – what is a typical day like?

I am the Pre-Filing Paralegal for all new clients. That means that I talk with new clients to set up their initial consultation with the attorney and make sure that all their bankruptcy documents are collected before we file their bankruptcy with the court. A typical day consists of receiving calls for all new clients and following up with clients who still need to retain our firm and provide us with their documents. I review client files, scan their documents, and make sure their file is all ready for us to prepare their case and schedule their signing appointment. I am also Jesse’s assistant, which consists of taking his voicemails, scheduling his calendar, and working on marketing material for him.

2. What do you enjoy most about your work?

I most enjoy being able to work from home. I also like that this job is not stressful, as most of the clients are kind and just appreciate all the help that Jesse and the firm are doing to help them with their debt. I like helping people, and I get to talk with clients every day, even though I wish sometimes that I could meet them face to face!

3. What were you doing before you joined Bankruptcy Law Professionals?

Before I joined BLP, I worked as the Associate Director for Admissions at Colorado Christian University for five years. I helped lead the Admissions team, recruited potential students from Northern Colorado, and helped students and their families decide if CCU was the right fit for them. I enjoyed my job and was able to earn my MBA for free while I worked there – which was a huge plus!

4. What are your goals for the future?

My career goals are not as clear or set in stone, as my family goals. I am having my first baby – a BOY – in late February. My husband and I are excited to finally be parents and love on this little one as much as possible! I have wanted to be a mom since I can remember, and this is a dream come true for me personally. As for my future career goals, I hope to one day use my MBA to help women experience fresh new starts. I have always had a passion for women with rough pasts or who have not had the greatest chances to succeed at life. I would hope to one day be part of an organization that helps these women get on their feet again, and discover their God-given purpose!

5. What do you like about living in Colorado?

To start, I grew up in El Paso, Texas – you got to love living on the border – except that most people just drive through El Paso and don’t stay for long. That being said, I love everything about living in Colorado! I have lived here for over 10 years, and I have enjoyed that we get all four seasons here. I enjoy the mountains, the community I have here, and the fact that I met my husband here. I love the local church I am part of out here, and I don’t plan on moving anytime soon!

6. If you could win a dream vacation, where would you go and what would you do there?

If I could win a dream vacation, I would want it to be a cruise or tour of Europe with my husband. He has never been, and I absolutely love Europe. I would want to do a three-week trip touring Europe with a really nice camera to capture all our favorite memories. I would want Ireland and Italy to be included in that tour. I love to travel and my passport is always ready for a good trip overseas!

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NEW WEBSITE HAS LAUNCHED

2011 November 1 by

We are excited about the launch of our new and improved website at http://www.bklaw.wwddev2.com.

The new site includes our blog, which has articles on budgeting, bankruptcy tips, and more. It also includes client forms, bankruptcy resources, staff bios, and more.

We would love to hear any ideas you have for improving it. Would you like to see more helpful articles, forms, or other resources?

Let us know! Leave a comment on this blog post.

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HOW TO NEGOTIATE YOUR MEDICAL BILLS

2011 November 1 by

According to a study published in Smart Money magazine, negotiating medical bills is something people don’t often do, but it can have successful results. In fact, 66 percent of patients who negotiated costs with their doctor were successful, while 70 percent were successful when dealing directly with their hospitals. Yet according to published estimates, fewer than 15% of consumers negotiate their bills.

So if you’re facing some tough medical bills and would like to negotiate the prices or terms, it’s certainly in your favor to do so. There is often room for negotiation with doctor’s offices and hospitals, even if your bill is overdue. Here are some tips and steps to consider when embarking on a medical bill negotiation.

IT DOESN’T HURT TO ASK

An excellent first step is to just pick up the phone and speak to someone in the billing department of your physician’s office or hospital. Explain your situation calmly and find out what your options are. You might get an on-the-spot hardship discount.

Ask about special needs programs. Hospitals often do not advertise these programs, but they exist. You might qualify for discounts or to have your bill dismissed entirely. Hospitals often have financial counselors and patient advocates who can help you. Just ask.

If you do not have insurance, it’s worth asking for a discount based on this fact. The healthcare provider might accept a loss on your service or give you a discount because you do not have insurance. Hospitals and physicians regularly have up to a dozen costs for the same procedure, depending on whether the payer is an individual, Medicare, Medicaid, insurance, etc. Why not ask them to give you the lowest of those rates, if they are acceptable for other people to pay? You could start by asking what the Medicare rate is for your procedure, as that’s often the lowest.

DO YOUR RESEARCH

This stage requires perseverance and patience, as you are now entering the complicated world of medical billing. But it can have big payoffs.

Mistakes are often made on medical bills. In fact, one out of every five medical claims are improperly processed, According to the American Medical Association. So review your bills carefully and make sure you haven’t been double billed for anything. If you see separate entries for “anesthesia” for example, make sure anesthesia charges weren’t included in other areas. You might have to get on the phone and ask some questions.

Get online and research costs for your procedure. A good place to start is the Healthcare Blue Book, which lists the fair market price of most procedures. Think of it like buying a car. Knowing the cost range for the item helps you negotiate a price on the lower end of that scale.

 

Medicare prices are the standard that many insurance companies and healthcare providers go by, so get online and find out the rate for your procedure. A good place to start is the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Medicare Web site. Enter your ZIP code and begin comparing hospital rates.

CONSIDER A PAYMENT PLAN

Physicians or hospitals would much rather receive payments over a period of time rather than never at all. So it’s in your favor to discuss a payment plan arrangement for your medical bills. Ask about interest though, as many charge hefty fees for the privilege of paying over time. Ask for this fee to be waived because of your circumstances.

TURN TO A HEALTHCARE ADVOCATE FOR HELP

Even though it may not seem like it, there are people on your side. Some areas have healthcare advocates — start by finding your state Attorney General’s office at www.naag.org. Or reach out to The Patient Advocacy Foundation for free advice.

If you can find an individual healthcare advocate who earns a commission on the money they save you, this is an excellent option. These professionals are often previous employees of health insurance companies or hospital billing departments. So they have the expertise to help you negotiate and research your procedure costs.

 

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LOOKING FOR IDEAS TO SAVE MONEY THIS HOLIDAY SEASON?

2011 November 1 by

If you’re like most of our clients, you are hoping to get through this holiday season without incurring big bills to face later. To help you make the most of the season, here are some tips on three of the most expensive areas – decorating, gift giving, and gift wrapping. We hope these help you have a very happy holiday!

DECK YOUR HALLS WITHOUT BREAKING THE BANK

  • Get your kids or grandkids in on the action. Set up an art station with paints, crayons, glitter, and glue, and have the little artists make holiday decorations. They will love seeing their handiwork displayed – and you will have inexpensive decorations.
  • Recycle things you have around the house like lightbulbs (makes a great santa face), old wrapping paper and bows (for new ornaments), and last-year’s Christmas cards (for cute new decorations). There are some very inventive ideas here: http://www.allfreecrafts.com/christmas/index.shtml
  • Make angel ornaments out of coffee filters. Here are instructions if you’d like to give this creative idea a try. http://crafts.kaboose.com/easy-coffee-filter-angel.html
  • Pop some popcorn and string it up using a needle and thread. Add some color with cranberries, beads, or buttons.
  • Decorate your house by bringing the outside in, using whatever you can find outside, such as pinecones, tree branches, and acorns.
  • Go with an artificial tree that will last year after year. Compare the cost of pre-lit trees with buying an unlit tree plus separate strings of lights. Often, the pre-lit can be cheaper.
  • Cover your walls and doors with homemade snowflakes, in a variety of sizes, cut from regular computer paper. It’s a simple old-fashioned decoration that has big impact.

WRAP GIFTS IN STYLE, FOR LESS

  • Check out dollar stores – they often have great options for gift wrap, bags, and bows.
  • Use what you have on hand, like the comics from the newspaper, colorful magazine ads, or pretty calendar pictures.
  • Print out kids’ pictures on computer paper and use that as wrapping paper – the grandparents will love it!
    • Make your own gift wrap out of brown paper grocery bags – just take some sponges and cut out shapes like stars and trees, then load them up with paint and stamp the paper.
    • Look for non-holiday specific paper that’s still festive and colorful, like bright reds, greens, and silver or gold.
    • Get the kids to make their own gift wrap, using large sheets of drawing paper and some crayons or markers.
    • Make your own gift tags out of last year’s Christmas cards or by cutting a small piece of matching wrapping paper and folding it in half.

GIFT-GIVING ON A BUDGET

  • Set a spending limit and stick to it. Perhaps you set an overall amount, or a limit per person. This will help frame your holiday shopping season and keep your spending in check.
  • If someone surprises you with a gift, don’t feel obligated to reciprocate. Just explain to them that you’re on a strict budget this year, they will understand.
  • Do a family grab bag and pull names out of a hat for gift-giving. That way, everyone gets a gift but you only have to buy one.
  • Just buy for the children. Adults often decide to forego gift exchanges and just focus on the kids at the holidays. The joy on their faces can be your gift!
  • Make vouchers for around-the-house chores, such as two hours of yardwork help for your brother-in-law, help painting your mother’s bedroom, or watching your sister’s kids for an afternoon. Your time and effort is free, but they will appreciate the gift!
  • Make homemade gifts, such as knitted hats and mittens, baked goods, candies, or picture collages. These gifts are often more meaningful than the latest expensive gadget.
  • Take advantage of websites that offer “gifts under $20” categories, like Gifts.com and Amazon.com
  • Consider sending an eCard with a beautiful heart-felt message of appreciation to your friend or family member. It’s free and the person will be touched by your effort. Or perhaps you can use eCards instead of printing out family letters. Here are a few sites to check out: www.123greetings.com and www.bluemountain.com

 

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