One reason why some people go so deep into debt that they need to file for bankruptcy is medical debt. This type of debt is hard to get away from if you are uninsured, underinsured or have high deductibles for care. There isn't much you can do when you need medical care, but there are some choices you have when you get the bill.
There are a few ways to manage or avoid falling into medical debt. As a patient, knowing that your medical expenses could be thousands of dollars is stress you don't need. Many people in America struggle with medical debts; it's important for you to know some options that are open to you if you're in that group.
Medical debt can be one of the most challenging debts to have in your life. It can quickly build up and become overwhelming, and it can seem like there are a few ways to manage it. Fortunately, there are ways to get in control of medical debt.
The medical bill debt crisis faced by many Americans is a growing problem with no relief in sight, including here in Arkansas. Consumer bankruptcy filers often cite medical debt as their primary problem. There are generally two types of patients having trouble with medical debt: those who are insured and those who are uninsured.
There are many unfair aspects of our health care insurance coverage for consumers in Arkansas and throughout the nation. The most devastating aspect of the weaknesses of the system is seen with those people who are fighting a possibly fatal disease such as cancer. Instead of the health care network nationwide being set up to take care of those individuals, it is more harsh on them by loading them up, in many cases, with huge medical debt that cannot be re-paid.
Many Arkansas residents have faced unexpected financial stress due to medical emergencies or long-term treatments of disease. Mounting medical debt overwhelm those who already struggle to make ends meet. In many circumstances, various options allow hardworking people to wipe their slates clean through debt relief.
The medical care system in most states, including in Arkansas, remains unaffordable and a financial burden of major proportions to many consumers. The most surprising aspect of the problem is that even people with seemingly adequate health insurance are finding it necessary to file bankruptcy to survive medical debt. Clearly, medical debt has become a leading source of consumer bankruptcy filings nationwide.
In Arkansas and throughout the country, hospitals are engaging in a scorched-earth policy of billing patients enormous amounts for tests and medical procedures. When the bills are submitted for payment to the health insurance carrier, the insurers are consistently rejecting a large number of them. The reasons for this burgeoning unpaid medical debt may be partially due to the large deductibles contained in many policies. In other instances, insurers are denying coverage by challenging the wording of coverage clauses and through other procedural technicalities that are generally unfair to defenseless policyholders.
As reported in this blog, the U.S. Department of Education has issued new guidelines to lenders regarding when a discharge of student loans should not be contested in a debtor's bankruptcy. The new rules open up some avenues that did not exist in recent years, both nationwide and here in Arkansas. Additionally, bankruptcy judges are granting more undue hardship discharges in cases that may not have been considered undue hardship until recently.
Some Arkansas consumers may not be aware of the basic consumer protections to which they are entitled. After an extensive study by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a federal crackdown was launched that revealed several dubious procedures by medical debt collectors. A settlement was subsequently reached with Syndicated Office Systems, one of the biggest debt collection agencies in the country. As a result of its illegal practices, the company will now pay 23,000 consumers a total amount of $5.4 million.