Experienced consumer advocates and third-party financial consultants know that there are many ways for American families to be threatened by medical bankruptcy because of high medical bills. There are a lot of situations in which even those with medical insurance coverage can still rack up extremely high bills totaling thousands and thousands of dollars, much more than most families can afford to pay, even over a number of years. But it’s not always the actual cost of medical care that drives households into medical debt. In a lot of cases, the bills aren’t even correct. They may have been denied by health insurance companies for suspicious reasons or they may even include services that were never provided in the first place.
Common Problems with Incorrect Medical Bills
You may have experienced a pattern of harassing activity with a debt collector contacting you to collect on a bill that you actually did not owe. In some cases, there’s a simple clerical error regarding the former patient’s name, Social Security number or other identifying information. In other cases, the former patient has already negotiated or paid off the debt, but this doesn’t get updated in the debt collector’s database. Then there are many other situations where bad customer service systems block a consumer’s efforts to set the record straight on medical debt, and the right information never gets to the provider. Some medical offices are notorious for requiring “physical authorization” to release records, which can help trap families in limbo over sky-high medical bills.
Don’t Pay Incorrect Medical Bills
If you experience some of these common problems, don’t rush to pay a bill until you can verify that it is legitimate. Send a letter of appeal by certified mail to your health insurance company and your provider. Some consumers have testified that it also helps to contact your local government about devious or illegal practices, especially when debt collectors are going after you for services that you did not receive. It also helps to be straight with debt collectors and talk to them fairly aggressively about your rights under federal and state laws. In some situations, proactive customer service departments will eventually get the message about the liabilities they could face for deceptive or overly aggressive debt collection.
Don’t be afraid to ask an outside party for help with your medical debt. Third party consumer advocates know how to help American families to pay only what they can on a medical debt and to help them avoid getting trapped in bad credit situations. Document all of your activity around medical debts thoroughly and bring this information into consultation with a legitimate, well experienced consumer advocate to build your case against a collections firm or provider.