Many forms of debt can be controlled through anticipation. Credit cards and student loans are necessary evils that you can often forecast and hopefully budget for proactively. Medical expenses, on the other hand, are often bills that emerge suddenly and cannot be ignored, particularly if they are life and death scenarios. And while getting healthy is the short-term goal, the long-term result can be big medical bills that grow and grow until your financial situation becomes sicker than you ever were.
More than 137 million Americans faced huge debt and financial hardship in 2019 because of ballooning and unpaid medical costs, according to a recent report by CNBC.
Because many Americans already amass debt from ongoing credit lines and everyday purchases, medical debt is a sudden and sneaky problem for many citizens. Especially in these uncharted waters of the Covid-19 virus outbreak, medical debt will only continue to skyrocket. Combining the current dire health outbreak with an already increasing cost of treatment are the biggest reasons that people find themselves in medically related debt lawsuits.
Negotiating any kind of debt, be it credit card driven or private student loan derived can be tricky and usually leads to a path of further debt issues in terms of increased interest payments or negative dings on your credit score. Medical debt, however, has a little more wiggle room with certain defense positions that can be explored by a medical debt professional legal team. It may be beneficial to get help from an attorney when facing a debt lawsuit. The GM Law Firm, headquartered in Boca Raton, Florida, can help find the nuances that can be exploited in your favor.
“Medical debt can be a very unexpected snowball rolling downhill that gets larger and larger, but it cannot be ignored,” according to debt lawsuit experts at GM Law Firm in Boca Raton, Florida. “It’s urgently important to gather all the information available to you about the particulars of what’s being charged and why. Then it’s important to understand if the debt collectors are in compliance with national regulations to protect yourself against any potential debt lawsuit.”
Addressing Medical Debt
Begin by studying all incoming medical bills and read your insurance company’s benefit explanations. Never assume what’s being billed is exactly what needs to be paid.
Similar to battling credit card debt by hiring a debt settlement firm, there are medical bill advocates who can help you climb the Mount Rushmore of incoming medical bills to spot inconsistencies and inaccuracies about your bills. Oftentimes hospital stays or services rendered may be overstated and thus overcharged. But working with such an advocate agency can be a double-edged sword as the fees they charge to allegedly work on your behalf may sometimes outweigh the actual monies owed. You should also protect yourself from predatory lenders if you might be facing a lawsuit. What may be presented as a “best case” option by a lender may, in fact, be the worst plan of action to dig an even deeper debt hole.
If advised to simply start paying down the medical debt by putting payments on a credit card, you risk paying Peter to pay Paul which will only move your debt from one place to another with even greater interest implications.
Since there is no quick fix to resolve medical debt, your best strategy is to consult with a professional medical debt legal team to help avoid your debt winding up in collections which could affect your credit score or, worse, initiate a debt lawsuit. In such a case, there are ways to fight unscrupulous debt collectors if you want to take on the fight. You may be tempted to jump at a quick fix for your medical debt — or to ignore it entirely. But doing so could cost you more in interest and may put your credit scores at risk.
Again, ignoring medical bills is the worst of all possible scenarios as your debt will ultimately be sent to a third party collection agency and, if further ignored, will result in a debt lawsuit. Before your debt gets to this darkest point, get help from an expert attorney if you see a lawsuit over debt on your horizon. This consultation should yield insight as to the defense and negotiating strategies that will help end the nightmare and prevent further problems.
Timing is Key to Fighting Medical Debt
The first rule of thumb when medical bills begin to pile up is don’t panic. Understand that there is a waiting period of 180 days before a delinquent medical bill will show up on your credit record. So you do have time to address the situation.
You also have the right to know the origin of the medical bills to see when exactly the debt was incurred that includes a detailed list of the medical items that are on that bill. Make sure the services rendered match exactly what’s on your bill.
There may also be billing mistakes associated with “in or out of network” doctor fees that could require a professional legal counsel to help break down and fully understand. Hiring an attorney group like the GM Law Firm can show the ways of fighting back and not just burying your head in the debt sand.
However, in the event that a debt lawsuit is pending, the first step is to prepare with an expert legal counsel to defend the suit and properly file an answer to the lawsuit that seeks debt resolution.
It’s also extremely important if you’re served in a state that is no longer your home state to seek legal counsel that understands the necessary legal representations and legalities within that state.
Know Your Rights to Fight Back Against Debt Collectors
As with any debt, consumers do have rights as patients or families faced with burgeoning medical debt. One question your defense attorney will ask is whether you were properly served. In some cases if the legal filings were only snail mailed to you rather than delivered in person or if the papers were mailed to an old address or left at an address that isn’t yours, then you may use the “improperly served” defense to fight your battle.
If the documents have been improperly served or if wages have already begun to be garnished against the debt because you may coincidentally have the same name as an actual plaintiff, then a lawyer should be contacted immediately to defend your case and see about recompense for the errors.
In extreme cases where a debt collection agency is actually harassing the former patient, grievances can be filed to prevent further debt harassment from taking place.
Always Question the Bills
Never be shy about questioning the services rendered or the billing line items when presented with mounting medical bills. If something about your bill doesn’t look quite right, there are ways to reduce it to its fair amount.
Medical organizations often make errors in logging actual hospital stay time or inflate costs of tests that should be lower or, worse, perhaps didn’t even take place at all. You may also consult with a medical bill advocacy who can help decode that pile of bills, review your charges and question what’s real and what’s perhaps inflated.
Once determined that you have, in fact, been over-billed, a team of legal professionals like those at GM Law Firm can help. Hospitals or medical providers don’t want to sue a former patient. That costs them precious time and money in these uncertain times. Let a debt specialist help you negotiate a reasonable payment with a binding agreement that protects against a lawsuit.
Medical debt has been a growing crisis in the U.S. for years and in 2020 it will only get worse with the rampant sickness that has swept the nation. But just like fighting back against the Covid-19 virus, you can also fight back against skyrocketing medical bills. Consult the debt legal experts at the GM Law Firm to find out how to understand your bills and best negotiate from a position of health while defending yourself against any potential lawsuit associated with the sickness of debt.