Medical Debt Collection Practices: How to Protect Yourself
Current medical debt collection practices are forcing many families into impossible financial situations. Hospitals tend to refer debts to a collection agency, making it intimidating and confusing for patients trying to resolve their debts. The hospitals sell these debts for pennies on the dollar, but the debt collection agency seeks full payment, often through judicial process.
Many people who file bankruptcy do so because of an inability to pay medical debt. However, there are certain things that you can do prior to reaching this point. You can call the hospital or doctor and request a partial waiver, ask for an affordable payment plan to be established, or even submit your bills to certain charitable organizations. Depending on your financial situation, you may even qualify for Medicaid which could pay all or a portion of your medical debt, as long as you apply quickly after first receiving care.
Remember To Review Your Bill
There have been numerous instances of people being overcharged for medical care or even charged twice. Medical billing practices for privately insured individuals or uninsured individuals are virtually unregulated so it is up to you to inspect your bill and dispute any charges that you feel are inaccurate. You can do this with or without the help of an attorney.
H.R. 2362, The Medical Debt Relief Act of 2015 is currently in committee and has been for over a year. If it passes committee and moves to a vote, the law could help consumers that are currently struggling to pay medical debt. One of key aspects of the law is that any medical debt less than 180 days delinquent not be reported to the credit bureaus. In the meantime, many hospitals and doctors do report medical debt, negatively impacting the credit scores of people trying to make payments.
Working With an Attorney
If you are being harassed by debt collectors or threatened by a hospital trying to collect on your medical bills, it could be time to speak with an attorney. You have options that include filing for bankruptcy. In a Chapter 7, you can ask for medical bills to be eliminated along with your other debts. In a Chapter 13, you can ask for your medical bills to be included with your other debts in a monthly repayment plan. This way, you will be paying an amount that you can afford. The benefit of filing for bankruptcy is that any debt collection action has to stop immediately, which can provide you with immediate and necessary relief.
Medical Debt Collection Practices & Your Rights
To learn more about your rights, how you can protect yourself and what your legal options are, call our office today.