The Facts on Medical Debt in America

April 19, 2019
What is the number one reason why Americans file for bankruptcy? While some would be tempted to answer consumer debt or mortgages that were too big, the answer is medical debt. Medical debt in America is a serious problem for individuals and families. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, over 25% of adults struggle to pay their medical bills, including those who have insurance.

The Problem Is More Serious Than You Think

Some assume that medical debt in America primarily affects Americans without insurance, but that isn’t the case. The New York Times reported that 20% of American adults under 65 with health insurance policies had a problem paying medical bills over the course of the past year. Out of that 20%, over 60% indicated they used up all or the majority of their savings to cover medical bills, and over 40% started an extra job solely to pay for medical expenses. Insurance alone is often insufficient due to copays and deductibles, especially for many people struggling to make ends meet.

Medical Debt Is Unpredictable

Part of the reason why medical debt is such a problem is that it’s often unpredictable. After all, who knows when they will experience a car accident, be diagnosed with an illness or have a family member suffer from a serious medical problem? Medical debt is involuntary and unpredictable, unlike the debt incurred due to a mortgage, car payment or credit card. People do not plan for illness and the costs associated with medical treatment. Complicating the issue is that medical bills may contain errors, and consumer medical bills can be reported to a credit reporting agency in error. Medical bills that were fully paid off could still affect a credit score up to seven years later, if they were paid with significant delay. Bills also vary greatly depending on where treatment is received. One study by NIH found that the emergency room charge for a sprained ankle could vary from $4 with certain insurance policies to $24,110. While there’s no instant way to tackle the variability in costs and the complexity of the healthcare industry, it’s important to understand the serious and unpredictable situation that many consumers with medical debt are facing.

Medical Debt Relief Isn’t Easy to Find

Across all categories of debt, patient advocates were able to transfer over $48 million in medical debt relief over the course of 2013. However, it is getting gradually more difficult to find assistance and seek debt relief. From changes to patient eligibility to medical facilities refusing to negotiate debt with patients who don’t have insurance, debt relief is not typically just around the corner. That means that many patients dealing with medical debt in America are facing collections.

How Medical Debt Affects Medical Practices

When patients don’t pay, that means that hospitals and medical practices are left needing to send bills to collections. When there are millions of dollars missing at a large practice or hospital, it can lower the standard of care as a result of decreased staffing, delayed capital improvements and the healthcare facility needing to take on debt. Some medical practices and hospitals are looking for new solutions to combat no-pay self-pay patients, including trying to connect patients with insurance coverage, partnering with local charities and making payment expectations clear at the start of treatment and at discharge. Some clinics even offer financing options. Regardless of how your medical practice tries to reduce overdue accounts receivable by being proactive, there is likely a percentage of your patients that does not pay within 120-180 days from date of service. In those instances, let us help

Partner with Alacrity Collections, a Professional Medical Debt Collections Agency to Collect

Alacrity Collections is proud to be a leader in medical debt collections. We achieve great results that are over twice the national average and treat all of our customers with dignity and respect. We even receive the occasional thank you letter from a patient whom we were able to help resolve their unpaid debt.  We work tirelessly to protect your brand and improve your net returns. To learn more about our services and get in touch, please call us at 1-800-752-9663 or set up a phone appointment directly on our representative’s calendar via this link: www.calendly.com/hheemann.  

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