Medical Debt Collections
Medical debts often take a while for them to appear on your record, but when they do, they are just as damaging to your credit rating as a late payment on your credit cards. The longer the delay is to your benefit, giving you at least a year to arrange a new loan or, preferably, pay off the debt. However, most medical debt collectors do not offer such long delays. Rather than give you this much time, they resort to sleazy and unethical tactics in hopes that you will just go silent and accept the debt without fighting it. But this just serves to increase your stress level and makes the debt even larger.
You may have heard that one of the best ways to deal with bad debts is to simply ignore them. That may very well work for small things such as late grocery bills or electric bill arrears, but it does not do much for medical debts. When it comes to medical bills, simply ignoring them won’t do much good because health care costs continue to rise and health problems only get worse. In fact, there is now good reason to think that medical debt collection may soon constitute one of the major areas of our debt problem.
One reason that medical debt collection agencies have become a significant part of our healthcare system is that hospitals themselves are not adequately equipped to handle all the collection calls they receive. As one doctor put it: “I used to hire a collection agency once a month, but now I have between four and eight.” This trend has been accelerated by the boom in private sector health insurance, which has made hospitals compete for patients by offering better patient care. However, hospital staff say that sometimes they are also pressured into responding by having to turn to third party collection agencies. In some cases, patients have even been known to threaten to leave hospitals if their treatment is not underway.
This is a very bad situation that is quickly becoming far worse. If a patient feels that they are being pressured into a solution that they didn’t want in the first place, then they are in danger of simply ignoring their medical bills, which will make them more difficult to pay down. In an effort to avoid this, many hospitals and other institutions are offering financial assistance programs in order to encourage customers to pay down their outstanding balances.
For patients, meanwhile, the best way to avoid falling behind on medical debts is to find a way to get in touch with their doctors and ensure that they are aware of any changes in their circumstances. While some doctors refuse to talk to debt collection agencies directly, others are open to working with them. At the very least, debtors should contact their doctors and make it clear that they will pay their overdue bills but that they would like to speak with their physician about their unpaid invoices. Most hospitals offer this service to their patients, after all, most people visit the hospital on some kind of medical advice. Debtors should definitely utilize their hospitals’ resources in order to keep their debt levels low.
Unfortunately, it is often difficult for debtors to figure out how to contact their health insurance company directly. Even when patients are aware of the process, there are still chances that the bill collectors won’t accept their payment arrangements, which can leave them with bills that are significantly higher than they originally owed. The easiest way to avoid getting behind on hospital bills is to contact each individual health insurance company directly to ask if the policyholders still have any of their health insurance policies active. If they do have coverage, the health insurance company may be willing to work out a payment plan that will allow the patient to make partial payments over time until their debts are satisfied.
Unfortunately, uninsured patients are often the ones who end up having their medical bills go unpaid. Because so few health insurance companies offer unpaid bill plans, unpaid bill collections are one of the most common reasons that an individual finds themselves in debt. The unfortunate truth is that even when someone pays their hospital bills, the bills can still often be significantly higher than they were when they first went in. When a person has multiple credit cards and bills, this situation can get even worse. Because so many bills are collected on a regular basis, someone who is experiencing this situation can quickly become overwhelmed and find themselves in a financial situation that they are unable to escape.
If you are concerned about medical debt collections, your best bet may be to contact your creditors directly. However, make sure you speak with the people responsible for writing the particular bills. In some cases, medical debt collections can come from different creditors than the one responsible for writing the bill. This could include both private and public medical providers, as well as Medicare and Medicaid providers. If possible, try to work out a payment plan that will allow you to make monthly payments. Once you receive your overdue bills, make sure to take steps to begin paying them off promptly or you could further damage your credit rating.