Posts Tagged: ‘medical bankruptcies’

Tips to Reduce Your Medical Debt

September 6, 2017 Posted by kingcade

When dealing with an unexpected medical bill, such as a trip to the emergency room or overnight hospital stay, one approach many consumers are taking is to negotiate the debt.  This trend is likely to continue.  According to a recent study, 20 percent of those 65 and older struggle to pay medical bills, and 30 percent of working adults with health insurance struggle with the same.  Almost half of Americans surveyed said they had trouble paying an unexpected medical bill of more than $500.

Whether your medical debt is the result of a high-deductible, out-of-network charge or procedure not covered by insurance, these tips will help reduce your medical debt.

  1. Be proactive. For a planned operation, make sure your insurance company covers the cost and the doctors and medical professionals working on you are ALL in-network.  Get a confirmation from your doctor  in writing or through email correspondence.  This will help you later if you learn an out-of-network provider was used.
  2. Research. Whether you are negotiating in advance or after you receive a bill, websites such as Fair Health and Healthcare Bluebook can help you determine what insurers pay in your area.
  3. Confirm the bill is correct. Ask your insurer if a portion of the bill will be covered or all of it.  Then call the provider that sent you the bill.  There may be some back and forth with this, so it is important to be patient- and persistent.
  4. Offer to pay cash. If you are able to pay most of the bill, offer to do so.  Medical advocates say they can often get a 15 to 20 percent “prompt pay” discount this way.
  5. Let them know if you cannot pay. If you are on a fixed income or struggling financially, letting the provider know you are not able to pay will give them a reason to offer you a discount or be placed on a reasonable payment plan.   If you cannot pay, tell them why you cannot pay.  Some states require hospitals provide free or reduced care to consumers within certain income limits.  Florida is one of these states.

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.

Related Resources:

https://www.consumerreports.org/medical-billing/six-smart-steps-for-lowering-medical-bills/

Changes to Healthcare could lead to More Bankruptcies

August 1, 2017 Posted by kingcade

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, personal bankruptcy filings dropped about 50 percent, from 1,536,799 in 2010 to 770,846 in 2016.  Studies have shown medical debt as the leading cause of personal bankruptcy filings.  As legislators and the executive branch renew their efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, there is concern about what that will do to coverage and premiums.

A study conducted by the American Medical Association in 2007 found that 67% of those who filed for bankruptcy cited medical debt as a major factor.  For middle class homeowners, the issue of medical coverage was even more influential, with half of all foreclosures caused in part by medical debt. The uncertainty about the fate of healthcare coverage for many Americans may cause the number of bankruptcies and foreclosures to increase in the coming years.

The current healthcare bill that is being debated may result in 22 million to 32 million Americans losing a portion of their current healthcare benefits.

Click here to read more on this story.

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.

Related Resources:

https://www.consumerreports.org/personal-bankruptcy/how-the-aca-drove-down-personal-bankruptcy/

Medical Debt Collectors Accused of Using Aggressive Tactics to Collect

May 16, 2017 Posted by kingcade

According to a recent report by the U.S. PIRG Education Fund that reviews reports from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, medical debt collectors have been employing aggressive tactics to collect, even from the wrong consumers, putting their credit reports at risk.

The collection attempts range from repeated calls, calls harassing family and friends, threats of legal action, and abusive language- All a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), designed to prevent creditor harassment and abuse.

Here are some important tips to remember if you are struggling with medical debt:

Confirm you owe the debt.  Almost 90 percent of medical bills have costly errors, according to the Medical Billing Advocates of America and Medical Recovery Services.  Request a detailed, itemized statement of charges and medical services you received.

Speak up.  If you find errors in your medical records or billing, contact your doctor or the hospital billing department.  Negotiate payments. They may even give you the option to defer payments for a few months or to put you on an interest-free plan where you pay a small amount toward the bill each month.

Get help. Hospitals and insurance companies often have case workers who can help with bills and resolve payment issues.

Click here to read more on this story.

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.

Medical Debt Collection Firms Ordered to Pay $577K for Threatening Consumers

January 12, 2017 Posted by kingcade

Two medical debt collection firms must refund hundreds of thousands of dollars after they were caught falsely claiming there were attorneys involved in the collection actions. Two Oklahoma-based law firms, both named Works and Lentz, misled consumers by exaggerating the extent to which actual “lawyers” were involved in the collection attempts.

The companies involved in the case attempt to make collections on 700,000 accounts annually, collecting medical debt on behalf of hospitals, doctors, and other healthcare providers.  From January 2012 to August 2016, every letter sent to the alleged debtors was printed on the firm’s letterhead, giving the impression that a legal action was pending.

Approximately one month after the letter was sent out; Works and Lentz assigned the account to a manager who contacted the debtor, representing themselves as a law firm.

In addition, when consumers called the firm back, they were greeted with a message stating, “You have reached Works & Lentz, Attorneys at Law.”  The letters sent out to consumers ended with a computerized signature of an individual attorney with the title, “Attorney at Law.”   The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau alleges that in most cases there was never an attorney who reviewed the collection accounts.

As specified in The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, it is illegal for firms to use false, deceptive or misleading representations or means to collect a debt, including using false implication that any individual is an attorney or that communications are from an attorney when they are not. This law was designed to protect consumers and help prevent creditor abuse and harassment.

In addition to misrepresenting that they are attorneys, the CFPB alleges that employees of Works and Lentz provided information to credit reporting agencies related to consumers’ debts without verifying the information was correct.

Click here to read more on this story.

If you are in financial crisis and considering filing for bankruptcy, contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, 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.

The Medical Debt Crisis: Americans still struggling to pay off Massive Healthcare bills

August 19, 2016 Posted by kingcade

Recent data shows that Americans are forgoing medical care and using extreme measures in an effort to pay off their medical debt. Although, the Affordable Care Act is helping reduce the burden of medical debt for some American consumers- for states that have not expanded Medicaid, millions of Americans still lack insurance and many of the affordable plans offer minimal coverage. The result is that in 2014, 64 million people were struggling with medical debt, the number one cause of bankruptcy in the United States.

Two surveys (in 2008 and 2012) explored the finances of lower to middle-income households carrying credit card debt. It was found that households carrying medical debt on their credit cards were more likely to take extreme measures to pay off their debts and forgo necessary medical treatment. Even for the insured, medical debt can negatively impact household finances.

In the 2008 and 2012 surveys, the average total credit card debt fell from $11,019 in 2008 to $8,762 in 2012, a 20 percent decline. Medical debt alone fell from $2,055 in 2008 to $1,679 in 2012, an 18 percent decline. A possible reason for the decline could be the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act (CARD Act). Studies show that the CARD Act dramatically reduced fees for credit card users. Research by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau suggests the CARD act reduced hidden fees, saving consumers billions of dollars. It is also possible the Affordable Care Act played a role along with the improving economy.

Costly medical procedures can quickly lead to a household’s debt spiraling out of control. A key contributor is the out-of-pocket costs, not covered by insurance. The survey revealed dental expenses were the most frequently cited as a contributor to credit card debt; of those respondents who report they experienced a dental expense, a large share said that the expense contributed to their credit card debt. Many basic insurance plans do not include dental.  Emergency room visits and purchasing prescription medication contributed to nearly half of the reported credit card debt.

There are some legislative options in the works. The Medical Bankruptcy Fairness Act, proposed by Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), would help families dealing with medical debt keep their homes by providing them with bankruptcy protection, and would forgive student debt. It also waives the requirement that individuals who file for debt relief receive credit counseling, if the debt is medical-related. The Medical Debt Responsibility Act, introduced by Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), would require that fully paid medical debt be removed from credit reports within 45 days.

Click here to read more on this story.

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.