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BCFP raises the call for greater oversight for medical debt

Medical debt remains one of the major causes of personal financial struggles in Cuyahoga Falls and throughout the U.S. Due to the high costs of healthcare, many are unable to resolve their medical expenses as quickly as some providers would like. The pressure to resolve medical debts can be a major source of stress, as debtors often worry that they or their loved ones will be refused care in the future because of unsettled expenses. Medical providers are within their rights to this, just as they are to report any delinquent accounts to the three major credit reporting agencies or initiate legal action to collect outstanding debts.

The Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (BCFP) acts as the federal advocate for debtors in the U.S. Recently, the BCFP began an initiative to restructure current debt collection rules and regulations to offer more protection to consumers from creditors. Many hoped that medical debt would be included in these changes. Yet the BCFP holds no jurisdiction over medical debt, as such debts are considered to be non-financial. As such, medical debt collectors are not bound by the same federal regulations that financial debt collectors are subject to, such as the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). Only in those situations where past-due medical bills are sold to debt collection agencies would they then fall under the oversight of the BCFP.

That soon may change, as the BCFP told a Senate subcommittee earlier this year that greater oversight was needed for medical debts. How that will happen is up for debate, whether it be through the establishment of a separate oversight agency, or by Congress expanding the scope of the BCFP. Yet until such time as stricter regulations are enacted, many who have large amounts of medical debt may view personal bankruptcy as their only option to resolve them should they have struggles in paying them promptly. Those in such a financial bind may wish to speak with a bankruptcy attorney to see what their options truly are. 

Source: Forbes "Have Medical Debt? More Help May Be On The Way" Evan Albright, Nov. 14, 2013 

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