Medical debt presents a major problem for individuals and families across the country and is the number one reason people file for bankruptcy. All it takes is one major medical crisis or trip to the emergency room to be hit with thousands of dollars in medical bills. Dealing with overwhelming medical debt while trying to regain your health can feel daunting.
Here are some important tips for dealing with medical debt collections.
Once the medical bill has been declared past due, the account will likely be turned over to collections. Anyone who has been pursued by a debt collector knows that the experience can be extremely stressful with continuous phone calls and collection attempts.
It is important to know that you have rights as a consumer when it comes to these calls and collections attempts. The Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA) protects consumers from threatening, violent or harassing communications from third-party debt collectors. If communication from these entities begins to border on harassment, you should contact an attorney immediately. You may have grounds for a lawsuit and be able to receive financial compensation for creditor harassment.
The last thing you should do is ignore the debt. If you owe on a medical debt and it remains unpaid, the medical provider is within their rights to pursue a medical debt lawsuit against you. If the matter goes into collections and you do nothing, the creditor will normally automatically win with a default judgment. Once that judgment is issued, the creditor is within their rights to garnish your wages. At that point, it may be too late to fight the debt after a judgment is issued.
The first step recommended when receiving communication regarding a medical debt is to confirm information on the debt. Ask for an account statement and make sure it matches with your own personal records. If an insurance claim has been filed, make sure that the amount is properly deducted, and this is accounted for on the bill.
Once the debt has been confirmed, if you have been served with a lawsuit, contact an attorney immediately. If there are any defenses that you can raise, an attorney will be able to advise you on what those defenses are. Pull records that support your claim if the amount being requested is incorrect. An attorney will be able to help protect your rights and ensure that all legal procedures are being followed.
Many times, medical providers offer financial assistance programs. If you do not dispute that the amount is owed, and a judgment has not been issued, it may be wise to speak with your medical provider to see what options they have to lower the debt or put you on an affordable repayment plan.
Medical debt is considered unsecured debt, which means it can be completely wiped out in bankruptcy. An experienced attorney can advise you as to whether bankruptcy is the best option in dealing with your medical debt.
If you are facing overwhelming medical debt, continuous or harassing phone calls from a debt collector, we advise sitting down with an experienced Orlando bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all your options, particularly if you are facing wage garnishment or have a debt collection lawsuit pending.