Have you ever said, “I thought that was covered by my insurance?” Most of us have had the rude surprise of getting a medical bill we thought was going to be paid by insurance. Most simple medical procedures are easily understood and with a few questions and perhaps a couple phone calls the patient will understand what part of the bill, if any, he will be responsible for. When it comes to complex surgeries, however, most patients, myself included, have little or no idea what was needed or what was actually done. Often after a hospital stay the patient will receive bills from the hospital, several physicians, various labs and potentially others. Typically medical or dental bills need to be submitted several times to an insurance company before being paid, or worse not being paid. The process of bill submission sounds simple but with hundreds of procedures and hundreds of insurance plans, “Medical Billing” has become a legitimate field of study and even a career option. That’s crazy, but I digress.
During this period of submission and resubmission process, the healthcare provider typically will have been paid for a part of the work with some unpaid balance remaining due. As time passes, the bill can go to collections where the consumer/patient’s credit is damaged. Yes, your credit can be damaged while you wait to see if your insurance is going to pay the bill. If that sounds unfair, it is! According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau medical debt makes up 52 percent of all collections accounts on credit reports so the problem is widespread. To reduce the risk of medical debts damaging your credit you need to review your medical bills and follow up to make sure the bills are being properly submitted to your insurance. You should also get a copy of your credit reports using www.annualcreditreport.com to verify the accuracy of what is being reported.
At the Law Office of Michael Primus we have helped hundreds of clients get out of debt, stop wage garnishments, and start fresh through bankruptcy. If you live in Contra Costa County and have debt problems, contact us for a free in-office consultation. We have offices in Walnut Creek, Antioch and Hercules.