Medical debt continues to be a large portion of debt collection proceedings, but many individuals facing large amounts of medical debt may not believe they have rights when it comes to negotiating the bill. For this reason, these individuals may delay contacting the provider to see if the bill can be reduced or if they could be placed on an affordable repayment plan. However, even if the person owing the medical debt waits months or even years to try to make good on the debt, it is usually never too late to negotiate a medical bill.
Properly Reviewing the Bill
Before negotiating a payment schedule or amount, it is always wise to carefully review the billing statement sent to the patient. The provider needs to properly bill for all services provided within a reasonable amount of time, and not doing this can often be seen as a breach of contract. In addition, it should never be assumed that all of the items listed in the bill are correct. It is recommended that the patient review what is listed, check with his or her calendar to make sure that they line up, and if they do not, bring this discrepancy to the attention of the provider. These corrections can be made even after a period of time passes and the bill has remained unpaid.
Negotiating Past-Due Medical Bills and Bankruptcy
It is possible to negotiate a medical bill, even if it is past due. At the end of the day, most of the medical service providers want to receive some type of payment, even if it is a lower amount.
While the company is within its rights to not negotiate on a bill that is past due, it is usually in the best interest of the company to take a reduced payment, than no payment at all. Medical debt is normally classified as an unsecured debt in a bankruptcy case meaning it is the debt that is discharged at the close of the case. Therefore, it is highly possible the medical company will walk away without receiving any payment if the individual pursues a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case.
Request Financial Assistance with Medical Debt
Medical providers will often offer financial assistance for individuals who are not able to pay for their medical bills. The company will not become aware of this issue if the consumer simply leaves the bill unpaid. It often helps to reach out and be screened for other programs, including financial assistance or state aid. The assistance can make it possible for the individual to pay off these debts in a manner that is much more realistic for the patient.
Speak with a Consumer or Bankruptcy Law Attorney
Depending on how much time has passed, it is recommended that the individual contact a consumer bankruptcy attorney to see if the statute of limitations has passed for these debts. Every state has a statute of limitations which controls the time period a creditor has to collect on a debt. Florida’s statute of limitations for medical debt is five years. However, if the patient negotiates and begins paying on the debt that falls out of this five-year period, this may revive the statute of limitations and then leave the person open to a lawsuit for the balance of the debt if he or she fails to continue paying. Therefore, it helps to speak first with an attorney regarding the debt before making any other decisions.
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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 McMaken, 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.