17 Oct Medical Bills Collection Laws: Know your consumer rights.
Medical billing and payments can be a trying process for patients and their families. It is an added struggle along with a health and emotional crisis one is going through. In this situation, many aren’t aware of their rights. There are steps you may take which will assist you through your billing process and stand firm with your rights in hand.
- Check for Accuracy
When it comes to paying your medical bills, you might find yourself between medical providers and insurance companies. You will hear confusing statements and often find yourself feeling like a full-time detective. It’s essential to understand costs for various procedures and what is covered by your insurance company.
There are some checks you may keep to ensure that the bill you have received is accurate. This way If the debt collections get in touch with you for recovery, you’d know whether they are charging you with incorrect charges or violating your rights.
- Check your medical bills and make sure the items listed are error-free.
- Check your name and information like insurance details are correct.
- Ask your medical provider for layman’s terms to understand your invoice better.
- Ask the collections officers to verify the debt.
- No Surprises Act
For any treatment you receive after the 1st of January 2022, you may have protections through the No Surprises Act. This declares that medical providers should not project patients with unexpected bills for emergency services that they didn’t know were out-of-network.
If you do not possess insurance or would prefer to make payment without insurance, the provider must give you a ‘good faith’ cost of your care before they deliver it. After which if you receive a bill of more than USD 400 or what was initially communicated, you are eligible to dispute it.
- Financial Assistance
In case you are not able to afford the bill, you may speak to your medical provider about it. Non-profit healthcare facilities are required by law to offer financial assistance programs or arrange payments. You may reach out to your local or state social services to see the options available to you.
- Know your rights against debt collectors
Debt collectors can contact you with valid debts that you owe. They cannot contact you for debt that you don’t owe. However, if the medical bill belongs to you, and is error-free, debt collectors can contact you to recover it. They have a right to sue you to recover the debt. If they win, they may place a lien on your property or halt your wages.
Collectors cannot harass or make abusive calls and should follow laws to collect a debt. They cannot call you all the time or round the clock and you can ask them to stop contacting them.
- No coercive credit reporting
Debt collectors cannot report a medical bill to credit reporting agencies without attempting to retrieve the debt first. They would prefer that you make payment without disputing it. However, it is your right to dispute the bill if you have any legitimate concerns.
- Avoid Scammers
There are agencies offering services that promise to keep your debt off your credit score. They may also claim to protect you from surprising out-of-network medical costs. This process is illegal and may bear dire consequences for you.
- Make a complaint
If you have questions or queries regarding the No Surprises Act or the billing laws, you can contact the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
There are precautions that you can take and ensure your rights are not violated in the medical debt collection process. Significantly, you are aware of your rights and the billing process by equipping yourself with thorough knowledge.