Medical bills often cause families to struggle with overwhelming debt burdens. About one in five U.S. households will face an unpaid backlog of medical bills, as noted by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. As reported by CBS MoneyWatch, the CFPB found that debt collectors also tried to recover money for medical bills patients did not actually owe.
Debt collection issues may involve duplicate or inaccurate billing statements. Before responding to a collection request, consumers may consider contacting medical providers or health insurance carriers to find and fix billing errors.
Financial assistance and treatment verification
Consumerfinance.gov notes that under federal law, nonprofit hospitals must offer financial aid. If patients need assistance, they may contact a hospital’s billing department to learn how to apply. Medical bills may, however, contain inaccurate information regarding the services provided.
By reviewing billing statements and comparing them to medical records, consumers may confirm whether the debts reflect the actual treatments they received. Patients could also ask collection agencies to verify that outstanding bills are correct.
Billing errors and credit score repair
CNBC reports that approximately 80% of medical bills contain errors. Patients may, however, contact their providers and request an itemized billing statement. Itemized bills provide a list of services received and their Current Procedural Terminology codes. The CPT codes could help contest invoices sent by health insurance carriers. Records showing the actual treatments provided may counter a collection action. Maintaining records of received treatments may also help remove negative marks from a credit report.
Finding and fixing billing mistakes could improve declining credit scores while also helping to reduce medical debt loads. In certain cases, a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing may provide the needed relief from overwhelming health care debts.