Posts Tagged: ‘medical debt’

Why Debt Settlement is Still a Bad Alternative to Bankruptcy

September 8, 2017 Posted by kingcade

Increased regulation and enforcement has forced debt settlement companies to do what they promise in recent years, rather than charge people hefty upfront fees and fail to deliver any relief. However, debt settlement is not as consumer-friendly as the industry presents it, and many of the people who praise the companies and the process do not fully understand their alternatives or the long-term consequences of settling debts. A few of the minor consequences you might experience if you opt for debt settlement include: tax bills on the forgiven debt, a dip in credit scores and increased interest on new purchases.

Here are some of the biggest problems with debt settlement:

  • The debt settlement process takes years. Customers are told to stop paying their credit card bills, loans and other debts and put money into a savings account, however; negotiations may take years. According to the Freedom Financial Network, the largest debt settlement company, half of all customers eventually settle at least 75 percent of their debt, but the process usually takes three to four years. In the meantime, customers risk being sued over their debts. On the other hand, Chapter 7 bankruptcy halts collections activity, including lawsuits.
  • The math doesn’t add up. Debts are typically settled for 45 to 50 percent of the current balance, which is often higher than the initial balance because of late fees and interest. The average debt settlement fee is 20 percent of the debt at the time of enrollment. The amount of forgiven debt is usually reported to the IRS and is taxable as income. If the borrower is in the 25 percent federal tax bracket, the total cost of the settlement can equal 90 percent or more of the original amount owed.
  • Debt settlement companies tend to demonize bankruptcy. For example, National Debt Relief, a large debt settlement company, claims on the website, “Declaring Chapter 7 bankruptcy may mean saying goodbye to most of the assets you have accumulated over the course of your life.” However, few people who file for Chapter 7, which erases most debts in three to six months, lose any assets thanks to state laws that typically protect most if not all of what filers own.
  • Debt settlement companies also claim that bankruptcy is harder on credit scores. However, both processes often drop scores into the mid-500s. Credit scores can begin the recovery process immediately after either process is complete. The difference is that Chapter 7 bankruptcy typically takes only months to complete, while debt settlement typically takes years to complete.

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If you have any questions on this topic or are in financial crisis and considering filing for bankruptcy, contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all of 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.

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.

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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/

The Dangers of Medical Credit Cards

June 22, 2017 Posted by kingcade

A medical credit card can help you cover an unexpected medical expense or procedure, but it is important to know the costs associated with these type cards.  Offered at most doctors and veterinary offices nationwide, medical credit cards are designed to spread out the payments on medical-related bills you cannot afford to pay upfront.

Approval rates for these cards are high- you can even get approved right at the doctor’s office, according to CreditCards.com.  These cards offer a type of financing called “deferred interest,” which sounds appealing in theory, but beware of the consequences.  If the balance of the card is not paid in full by the end of the agreed-upon payment period, you are hit with all of the accrued interest at one time, which is typically a very high interest rate.  For example, CareCredit’s APR is 26.99%, while the average credit card has an interest rate of around 16.5%.

Something else to remember: the promotional financing applies only to “healthcare-related” expenses, so if you use the card to buy groceries or fill up your gas tank, you will incur interest charges if you do not pay the bill in full during the billing cycle- even if it is within the promotional period.

One of the top medical credit card companies, CareCredit has come under fire when it comes to their lending and enrollment practices.  CareCredit was forced to refund customers$34 million in 2013 by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for deceptive enrollment practices, because consumers thought they were signing up for interest free cards.

If you have medical debt, the best option is to work out a payment plan with the doctor’s office or hospital.

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.

 

Mark Your Calendars: Starting July 1, certain negative marks will vanish from credit reports

June 21, 2017 Posted by kingcade

Starting July 1, many people with tax liens, civil judgments and certain medical debts will see a boost to their credit scores.  The three largest credit bureaus- Experian, Equifax and TransUnion, will no longer report a tax lien or civil judgment on a consumer’s credit report if it does not include the person’s name, address and either their social security number or date of birth.  Existing liens missing this information will also be expunged.

Consumer-friendly changes will also be made to the way medical debts are reported. According to the new rules, bureaus will not display medical collections until at least six months after the account became delinquent.  They will also remove any existing medical collections that insurance companies have paid or are paying for.  After the liens and judgments are expunged, some consumers can expect to see their credit score increase by as much as 40 points- enough to affect a loan approval or the terms.  The leading scoring company, FICO, estimated that out of 200 million “scorable” consumers, roughly 12 million will have a lien or judgment disappear from their report.

Starting July 1, the credit bureaus also will check lien and judgment data every 90 days to make sure the information is still accurate. These changes come as credit bureaus have been put under pressure from regulators and state attorneys general to improve the accuracy of credit reporting.  To confirm their data is correct, consumers should get a free copy of their credit report from each of the three bureaus once a year at www.annualcreditreport.com.

Click here to read more on this story.

If you have any questions on this topic or are in financial crisis and considering filing for bankruptcy, contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all of 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.