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More hospitals using payment companies to collect patient debts

Medical debt is among the leading causes of bankruptcy, and medical bills are among the most common forms of debt with which Americans are strapped. There are a number of reasons for this, including the continually increase in the costs of health care and the way the medical industry deals with medical debt.

It used to be that patients who were unable to pay their medical bills could informally arrange a payment plan with the hospital or clinic where they received care. Installment plans are still available nowadays, but it is more common that they are more formal, structured agreements, managed by a company the hospital hires to handle patients’ accounts. The trend is largely motivated by the fact that hospitals are becoming responsible for collecting more money as more costs are shifted to patients. 

The specific details of payment plans vary, depending on the terms negotiated between hospitals and payment companies. Enrollment is not always optional, as some hospitals automatically enroll patients who have not fully paid their bill within 90 days.

It is beneficial to patients in that they are able to pay their bill legitimately over time, without damage to their credit record. Patients who are unable to pay are still not exempt from that possibility, but it is less likely to happen to those who fail to pay because of billing mistakes.

Medical debt is sure to continue troubling Americans, and to be a major factor in bankruptcies. Those who are facing overwhelming medical debt should contact a bankruptcy attorney to determine their options for debt relief. 

Source: The Boston Globe, “Paying your medical bills is more complicated,” Ann Carrns, September 25, 2013. 

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