All About Medical Bill Debt
Going to the hospital can be a scary experience, but after a procedure a lot of people are more scared by the bills that seem to pile up. In the case of an emergency procedure, many people have discovered that their savings are quickly used up paying off their medical bills. In fact, medical bill debt is the reason that is cited the most often by people filing for bankruptcy. This is because of a lack of insurance, or not having enough insurance coverage, can cause a consumer to pay very high medical bills.
The History of Medical Bill Debt.
Of course, this wasn’t always the case. For centuries, payment for medical services was due at the time of service. Patients who couldn’t afford to pay their doctors were removed from hospitals and refused care. In the 20th century, however, laws were passed making it illegal for hospitals to deny care to patients because they could not pay. This meant that hospitals switched to billing patients after they received care. When bills were not paid, they could be turned over to a collection agency, but the patient would be allowed to continue to receive care while they worked out payments.
In the years since these laws were passed, however, Americans have seen the cost of health care increase dramatically. There are many reasons for this, but the result seems to be that most people have to have health insurance in order to afford a medical emergency. A single emergency room visit can easily rack of tens of thousands of dollars in medical bill debt.
Insurance Does not Cure Medical Debt.
Simply having health insurance does not mean that a person or family will not have medical debt, however. Many policies require co-pays that require the policy holder to pay out of pocket for a portion of the medical bills that he or she accumulates. Depending on the policy, the co-pay can be a relatively minor charge, or it can be thousands of dollars. In other cases, patients find out too late that the doctor or hospital that they used was not covered by their insurance policy.
Medical Debt can Effect your Credit Score.
Once a person has accumulated medical debt, a hospital or clinic is legally allowed to take debt collection steps. This means that a consumer has to negotiate a payment plan directly with the clinic, or refinance the debt. Otherwise, the consumer is subject to collection calls and a lower credit score.