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Medical Bills Issues, Options and Solutions

There is a possibility, at any time, you or your loved one could end up in the emergency room.  This unexpected trip to the emergency room could result in a medical bill costing you thousands of dollars, even if you have health insurance.  To compound the situation of a high medical bill, many medical practitioners observe dishonest billing practices. With these unfair billing practices, many Americans are unaware that they are being cheated by their physicians leading to a high incidence in bankruptcy. In the following article, you will be provided with information to avoid nightmares associated with a high medical bills. As always, if you are among the millions struggling with medical debt, you can request a free debt consultation online here - Medical Debt Relief

The Issues:

Studies have shown that hospitals are using the following schemes, resulting in the growing problem of abusive medical debt collection practices: 

Damaging Credit Scores:  Having debt can lead to a low credit score. This, generally, occurs when a health practitioner provides debts to collection agencies or obtain liens. Once an agency has the patient information, this lowers the patient’s credit score. A report from the Federal Reserve stated that over 50% of records by collection agencies, and over 15% of lawsuits that appear on American’s credit reports are related to medical debt.

Providing High Interest Credit Cards:  Health care providers may offer a loan or credit card to assist a patient in paying for their medical costs. However, to ensure that this does not lead one into further debt, examine the interest rates, because it is quite common that these are extraordinarily high rates, thus, increasing debt further.

Lack of Charity Care: In general, hospitals are registered as not-for-profit agencies; meaning, that the care they provide, is free or at a reduced rate for those who may be financially burdened, if these individuals are able to prove necessary information regarding their financial situation.  Unfortunately, evidence shows that more than 70% of those patients who are unable to pay their medical bills, were never offered assistance to pay their obligations. Sadly, it is generally seen that the uninsured are charged higher rates than those with medical insurance and are financially sound.

Refusing Future Care:  If you owe money to the health care providers, check with their policies, because it may be in their Practitioner Bill of Rights, that they can refuse service. In areas where medical assistance is not prominent, these patients may not have an option leading to the inability to seek medical care.

Prosecuting of Patients:  If medical providers do not receive their owed funds, these providers are able to garnish wages, obtain home liens, send debts to collections agencies, or even take legal action against their patients. Additionally, the spouses of these patients could also be held accountable for the debts owed to the medical professionals.

If a patient is unaware of their current situation and medical bill, these unfair practices may go unchallenged, leading consumers to lose their homes, file bankruptcy, or destroying their credit. Lack of knowledge regarding their rights as a patient and consumer, a stable financial situation, and a willingness to negotiate are currently

Your Options:

If you are currently in a situation struggling to pay medical bills due to an illness or recent hospitalization, here are a few tips to avoid being stuck with a large amount of insurmountable debt.  

Identify Your Choices:  Research governmental assistance (i.e. Medicaid), private health insurance, and charity options that may be available to you. Speak to the medical billings department regarding your concerns and options; do not be afraid to negotiate a deal with them to reduce your medical bill and payment options. They are here to help you, but only if you ask them. They are not going to come and tell you when there is an error in your bill or if you cannot pay your bill. Go to them.

Examine your Medical Bill: Do you know what services you received? Take the time and review your medical bill to ensure proper billing for services and procedures rendered. It is quite common for double billing, over billing, or billing for procedures you did not receive. Pay close attention. This is your right to object to any test/procedure/medication that you did not receive. If you find an error with your bill, speak to the billing’s office, but make sure they are not selling your debt to collections.

Credit Card Payment: Rather than opening a credit card suggested by the hospital or medical provider, you may opt to use one of your own with a current low interest rate. Negotiate with your credit card company for a longer introductory rate, if you are still entitled to one.

Prevent Financial Mishaps:  Review your current bills, and pay the most important ones first, such as your mortgage prior to paying your medical bills. Do not use your home equity loan to pay off your medical debt bills, as this can put your home at risk if you are unable to pay off the entire debt.

Some Solutions

In order to provide a voice for the patients and ensure the rights of a patient, to prevent unfair medical billing, these are the following regulations:

Standardize Charity Programs:  Clear standards should be provided by the health care professionals in relation to reduced rates or even free care to the patients. It is the patient’s right to obtain full information regarding their financing and assistance options.

Clear Discount Policies: At times, insurance companies receive discounts on medical bills, which should be applied to the consumers, since the consumers are the ones that are dealing with their illness, and ultimately, end up with the residual from the bills. Sliding scale billing should be provided to patients to guarantee that those who cannot afford health care are not paying the most money for it.

Practical Payment Programs:  Medical bill repayment should be affordable and correlate to one’s income, resulting in billings departments receiving higher returns. This would ensure that bills would be paid, albeit at a longer rate, even so, the payments would be received and paid.

Prevent Sales to Collections:  Restrictions of having medical debts be sold to collection agencies should be set, especially for those where the billings agency and patient are in negotiations. Additional restrictions should be placed upon property liens, wage garnishment, and judgments for medical bill collection.

Limit Prices for the Lower Class:  Placing a ceiling on the medical bills for those who are at a low income should occur to prevent inflation of prices. At the current time, these individuals pay a higher rate for their medical care, in comparison to those who are financially secure.

Protection of Spouses: Prevent health care professionals from collecting medical debts from spouses of those individuals who have outstanding medical debt