Posts Tagged: ‘medical debt’

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/

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.

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.