Eliminate Medical Debt
Medical Debt Relief
The accumulation of medical debt can be both frustrating and startling. A sudden medical emergency of yourself, your spouse, or your child may cause you to take on significant medical debt. When unpaid bills become insurmountable, you need skilled legal guidance to consider your options to eliminate medical debt, as well as the other debts that are likely a result of the financial hardship brought on by medical debt. Speak with an attorney who has experience helping consumers achieve medical debt relief.
At O’Bryan Law Offices, our attorneys assist individuals and families across Kentucky and Southern Indiana in overcoming their medical debts and moving forward. With over 50 years of combined experience, our debt counseling lawyers can help you explore your options. If you’re in a tight spot, contact an emergency bankruptcy lawyer for more information. Call us today for a free consultation at (502) 400-4020.
What Is Medical Debt?
Medical debt is any cost associated with medical services that you can’t afford to pay upfront. This includes payment plans made with medical care providers. 50% of people currently carry medical debt in the United States. This is up significantly from a 2017 study by The Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP). In 2017, 19% of households reported that they owed money for medical services. According to this survey, the median medical debt owed is $2,000.
Medical debt can put a major burden on any household. Regardless of your health status, medical debt can quickly accumulate after a wide array of unprecedented events, including:
- An unexpected diagnosis
- A catastrophic accident
- Expensive prescription drugs
- A costly routine medical procedure
- A necessary surgery
A car accident, fall on the playground, or diagnosis of a serious illness can leave you with no choice but to accept treatment. When you lack the means to pay back the debt, hospital bills can quickly add up.
Medical bills are a common reason many people have debt in Kentucky and throughout the country. Some people cannot pay on time, which may lead to being fined late charges or getting turned over to a collection agency. However, a debtor still has options to get out of medical debt.
How to Get Rid of Medical Debt
People have several options to handle medical debt. Compared to credit card debt, medical debt can be a little easier to handle. A debtor could get a medical loan specially designed for health care debt. These can be obtained through the facility or another lender and often do not require collateral.
Asking for debt forgiveness is another option. Debt forgiveness requires that the patient write a letter to ask that a portion of the debt be erased. They also have the options of grants, low-interest credit cards, and medical credit cards.
If the debtor sees no way out of medical debt, they might choose to file for bankruptcy. An experienced attorney at O’Bryan Law Offices may be able to provide advice about the available options and assist a person in filing a bankruptcy claim. If you find yourself struggling with medical expenses, call O’Bryan Law Offices today for a free consultation. Our Kentucky debt counseling attorneys can help you pick the best option for your situation.
How to Dispute Medical Debt
Medical debt can accrue even if the debtor stays on top of their finances. Hospital bills, sudden illnesses or accidents, and drug costs are the top reasons for medical debt. Given the cost of health care, it could be impossible to avoid debt.
Individuals with even the best health insurance can still be responsible for debts. Accidents close to the beginning of the year can result in you paying thousands of dollars in deductibles and copays before your insurance starts to cover a portion of your care. Insurance still comes with out-of-pocket expenses and possibly denied claims. Luckily, you can dispute some of these costs.
With Your Health Insurance Provider
Insurance companies deny claims for every possible reason. Missing paperwork, incorrect coding, and inadequate documentation from your provider can all be reasons for the denial. You can file an appeal with your insurance company to ask them to review the denial.
With the Hospital or Healthcare Professional
Ask for an itemized bill of the services provided. Hospitals usually give you a total price, but you can ask for an itemized medical bill that shows the listed price of each service. Many hidden costs in the healthcare system can rack up costs quickly, and an itemized bill can help show that. Errors can also make a bill significantly higher. Hospital billers can make mistakes like duplicate charges or errors in coding. Errors occur in up to 80% of medical bills.
Many hospitals offer a significant discount on medical bills if you can prove financial hardship. This often includes sending in proof of income or proof of disability.
Medical Bills in Collections
Americans have more than $140 billion of medical debt in total. Medical debt is often sold to collection agencies for cents on the dollar. In some cases, the medical facility or doctor may attempt collection themselves. If the debt gets sent to a collection agency, you no longer pay the doctor; instead, you have to make payments to the collection agency. Nearly half of people with medical debt get turned over to collection.
A debt collection goes on your credit report and has a significant negative impact on your credit score. Before this year, medical debt collections only appeared on your credit report after 6 months. Because of new policy changes, medical debt will only go on your credit report after it’s been in collections for a year. Additionally, medical debt collections under $500 will not appear on your credit report at all. Read our related blog on How to Dispute Medical Collections to learn more.
How to Deal With Medical Debt Collectors
Juggling outstanding medical debt can leave you unable to pay other essential expenses and lead to constant harassing calls from creditors. When you meet with our attorneys, we understand the financial strain you are experiencing. Led by board-certified founding attorney Julie O’Bryan, our family-based firm takes a team approach to your case. We offer sound, thorough guidance throughout a turbulent time. We can even give you a special phone number to lead creditors to us instead of you.
Can Medical Debt Affect Credit Reports?
As of July 1st, 2022, all three major credit bureaus will remove negative marks from paid medical debt from credit reports. Only cleared debts are eligible, but this will impact many Americans. Many people struggle to get better rates on mortgages and loans due to poor credit scores. Cleared medical debt will no longer impact your credit score or appear on credit reports. If your medical debt is sent to collections, you have an entire year to pay it off before it appears on your credit report. Collections under $500 will not be listed on your credit report.
Bankruptcy For Unpaid Medical Bills
Filing for bankruptcy is not always appropriate. We will discuss when it could be in your best interests to determine a payment plan with the care provider, stick to a rigid budget or consider other options.
However, in many cases, filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy or Chapter 13 bankruptcy can provide the relief you need. Chapter 7, a common type of bankruptcy for individuals, can discharge you from your unsecured debts, which typically include medical debt. Chapter 13, a common option for those with income and assets they wish to protect, can reduce unsecured debts and form a court-approved extended payment plan.
Indiana and Kentucky Medical Debt Relief Lawyers
After a medical emergency, it can be stressful to manage overwhelming debt. People living with medical debt can suffer from health issues related to the debt, like stress and high blood pressure. This can lead to poor health and even more medical debt. Consult with experienced debt relief lawyers to determine your options at our Louisville, Frankfort, or New Albany offices. Schedule a free initial consultation with us by calling (502) 400-4020 or by sending us an email. We are a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.