07 Oct Medical Bills and Collections: Know your rights and protections.
Medical billing and collections can be a disheartening process for the debtor. While dealing with a health crisis, patients have to simultaneously juggle medical bills. Many are not aware of the rights the government allows them to have. This knowledge is a necessary tool to have to combat all the aspects that may affect your ability to pay medical bills.
Review for Errors
When you come across medical bills, you will find yourself in the middle of the healthcare service providers and your insurance company. This can be a confusing position to be in. You might need to turn into Sherlock Holmes and wear your investigative hat to comprehend the costs you are charged and how much of it the insurance will cover. The problem multiplies if you have received bills from not one, but several healthcare providers.
There are things that you can do to ensure that the bill you have received is accurate and your rights are not being violated.
- Have a thorough look at the bills and ensure all the listed items match the treatment you received.
- Make sure the bill is addressed to you and has the correct insurance details written on it.
- Ask questions from your provider and inquire about the items listed in the bills. You may ask them to explain everything to you in layman’s terms rather than medical.
- Ask questions from the collection agency and move them to verify the debt. Inquire about the collectors and the amount being collected.
You are protected under the No Surprises Act
Effective January 1, 2022, patients may have protection through the No Surprises Act. In case you receive services for an emergency from a healthcare provider who you didn’t know or weren’t informed was out-of-network, until you were billed, you are protected from making that payment.
Moreover, if you do not have health insurance or are paying without using one, your healthcare provider must give you a ‘good faith’ quote of how much the care will cost before treating you. If the ultimate bill is more than USD 400 than what was initially communicated to you, you are eligible to dispute those charges through the patient-provider dispute resolution process.
In case you’re unable to make the bill payment, reach out to your medical service provider. The Nonprofit hospitals are law-bound to offer the patient financial assistance program options or set up a payment arrangement.
If you want to get more information regarding this, you may get in touch with your state or social services available locally.
What Debt Collectors Can Do
- Debt collectors may only contact you if you do owe the debt.
- If the debt is yours, verified and the billing is correct, the debt collector has every right to contact you in an attempt to collect it.
- Debt collectors can legally proceed to take legal action to recover the money. If they win, they could seize your wages or place a lien on your property or home. They will need to however proceed legally.
What Are Your Rights
- Debt collectors cannot reach out to you for a debt that is owed by someone else and isn’t yours.
- You may ask them to verify the debtor’s information and ensure that the debt is yours.
- They cannot make harassing or abusive phone calls to you.
- Debt collectors need to report the debt to consumer reporting companies.
- Debt collectors cannot call you all the time, and you have the right to ask them to stop contacting you.
- If you see a debt collector violating your right, you may place a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Coercive Credit Reporting
Debt collectors cannot make a report of a medical bill to the credit reporting companies unless they have tried to collect the debt from you first. They would ideally hope that you would make the payment without asking any questions, however, it is your right to dispute the information.
Some individuals and companies promise to ensure that your medical bills will not make their way to your credit report. They would commit to protecting you from out-of-network costs. The best thing you can do is to run in the opposite direction from these people. They will charge you an upfront fee to give you hope in resolving your debt situation.
Trustworthy counselors maintain transparency, clearly mention their fee structure, and never pressurize you.
The Bottom Line
HospAid is as clear and transparent as it gets. We ensure that we maintain the rights of the patients as we move forward with our debt collection strategies. We prioritize our clients and give them results in form of the money that is owed to them. All parties need to have complete knowledge regarding their rights and boundaries.
We are here to maintain your rights, and retrieve what rightfully belongs to our clients.