When you're diagnosed with cancer, you're concerned with how progressed the cancer is and what the best treatment options are. There may be months or even years of surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation and other treatments in your future.
Many elderly individuals depend on Medicare to help them cover their expenses for medication, treatment, and examinations. Unfortunately, more and more of these people are getting hit with surprisingly high medical bills due to the Medicare Advantage program. In fact, many members of the baby boomer generation find themselves filing for bankruptcy as a direct result of Medicare Advantage.
Even for Kentucky residents who have health insurance, surprise medical bills may sometimes arrive. Many people have plans that limit them to seeing providers who are in their networks. If a doctor provides services and is not in the network, the patient may be billed for the difference between what the doctor charges the insurance company and what the company actually paid for the medical services.
Medical debt often inflicts financial hardship on Kentucky households. Because of aggressive tactics by the collection industry, the Federal Communications Commission has issued a ruling curtailing robo-calls from collection agencies directed at cellphone numbers. According to the FCC, a cellphone number can only be called by a collections company if the debtor has granted permission to be contacted by that number for billing issues.
It is estimated that medical debt has lowered the credit scores of 30 million Americans. While many of those impacted do not have health insurance, many of those who do have been affected as well. Many times, a medical debt listed on a credit report is listed in error or is not a valid obligation. Therefore, it is recommended that everyone check their credit periodically to look for errors.
Medical debt is among the biggest financial challenges Americans face, and according to a recent investigation by NerdWallet, the problem isn’t because Americans are spending their money elsewhere. The NerdWallet investigation involved an online survey of 2,016 American adults 18 years old and above, as well as public and private sector reports on consumer debt, medical billing errors and hospital prices.
In our last post, we mentioned that FICO will no longer be factoring overdue medical payments which have already been settled into consumer credit scores, and medical payments which are going to be paid will be discounted. The change is long overdue, especially given the fact that medical debt problems affect many Americans at some point in time.
One of the issues we have written about on this blog is medical debt and the way the medical industry handles late payments. In fact, the medical industry is well-known for its lack of patience with patients who don’t pay, and sends late bills off to collections quicker than perhaps any other industry. This can cause problems, of course, for patients who did not pay because the bill was in dispute or because they are working out payments from their insurance company. Unfortunately, up until now, credit scoring has not taken these factors into account.
With medical bills being as expensive as they are, some Americans have turned to using credit cards to settle up with their providers. As that trend has increased, patients have even begun to use rewards credit cards in an effort to get a little something back while they’re at it. Many Americans already have a rewards card of some sort, and can obtain bigger rewards for larger bills. In some cases, patients can even receive a discount on the total cost of the bill from the provider for the prompt payment. Why not, right?
Medical debt is a real burden for many Americans. As the costs of health care have increased and insurance companies have decreased coverage, the problem has been growing. Experts say that the average American household of four had over $20,000 of healthcare costs in 2013. For those who have the insurance coverage and disposable income, these costs are not ruinous. For many families, though, this just isn’t the case.