Consumers may be surprised to find out that it is not credit card debt that is the leading cause of bankruptcy, but medical debt. According to a recent study, Americans pay three times more in third-party collections from medical debt each year than they pay for bank and credit card debt combined. This year alone, approximately 51 million Americans will be contacted by a debt collection agency about a medical bill- that’s roughly one in five! This means more than $1 out of every $3 paid to third-party collectors is for medical debt.
The study conducted by NerdWallet Health also indicated that many of the people who are facing medical debt are being mistakenly overcharged. In fact, the study found hospital billing errors with overages of up to 26%. These billing errors were even more prominent with Medicare patients.
The study highlighted that Medicare Compliance reviews conducted by the Office of the Inspector General found that none of the hospitals they audited fully complied with Medicare billing requirements, with nearly half (49%) of the Medicare claims containing billing errors.
Considering that American households have lost $2,300 in median income, while health care expenses have increased $1,814, it would be wise for American consumers to take more initiative in understanding their health insurance packages. Out-of-pocket spending on healthcare is expected to accelerate to a 5.5% annual growth rate by 2023. That is double the growth of GDP.
While the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is a step in helping consumers avoid medical bankruptcies, by eliminating the underwriting process and subsidizing healthcare health care for those who would otherwise be uninsured- it can cause problems for individuals and families who choose the wrong plan.
According to health care experts, the average deductible for a silver plan can be upwards of $3,000 for an individual or $6,000 for a family — and that is just for in-network care. While 2015 out-of-pocket expenses are capped at $6,600 for an individual and $13,200 for a family, plans may impose separate out-of-pocket maxes — or have no max at all for out of network doctors and hospitals. Given the narrow network of approved providers within these plans, it becomes a likely scenario that an individual will at one point accidentally visit an out-of-network doctor or clinic and then be stuck with a large bill.
It is important consumers know that the ACA offers an external appeals process for health plan decisions, which provides recourse to individuals who face large medical bills after undergoing medical care that was not covered by their health insurance plan. A recent study in California even found that nearly half of such insurance denials were overturned in favor of the patient after review by an external board.
Those who have experienced illness or injury and found themselves overwhelmed with medical debt should contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney. In bankruptcy, medical bills are considered general unsecured debts just like credit cards. This means that medical bills do not receive priority treatment and can easily be discharged in bankruptcy. Bankruptcy laws were created to help people resolve overwhelming debt and gain a fresh financial start. Bankruptcy attorney Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade & Garcia, P.A. has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade & Garcia website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.