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The Internet may help to reduce unmanageable medical debt

It is reported that a third of American adults have unpaid medical debts that are causing financial anxiety. Michigan residents who are desperate to find a way to manage medical debt may find comfort in knowing that there are ways to go about obtaining possible reduction in charges or extended payment periods. It is interesting to note that it is not only uninsured people experiencing overwhelming medical debt, but also those who have medical insurance.

Armed with a detailed statement of medical service charges, a person can set about checking each charge individually. The availability of the Internet is a great help, and fair prices for most treatments and procedures can be researched. A patient may want to compare the charges on his or her statement with the reimbursement that medical insurers would pay for the same services. It is also important to control the individual charges on the bill with treatment and services that were actually provided. It is not uncommon for a facility’s billing department to, for instance, erroneously charge for medication that was administered three times a day, while, in fact, it was only done once a day.

New rule may save heirs from facing foreclosure of family home

When the loved one of a Michigan family dies, the anxiety of the family could be escalated by the complicated process of passing the property to its heirs. Family members who have had no prior business dealings with the mortgage provider may experience difficulties with the transfer of the property. As a result, surviving family members often lose their homes or face foreclosure.

Guidance that was recently issued by The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) aims to assist the members of a family who have been named as heirs of a home from a deceased loved one. The CFPB indicated that the names of beneficiaries may be included in the mortgage agreement, affording them the opportunity to obtain a modification or refinance of the property, and thereby avoid foreclosure. Family members will now have the opportunity to negotiate payment modifications with the mortgage holder.

Chapter 13 bankruptcy may resolve a desperate financial situation

Michigan consumers may agree that most individuals face periods of financial difficulty at some stage of their lives. There are those who manage to minimize the damage by effective debt management or even selling personal assets to free up some funds. However, others end up desperate and despondent when their finances seem to be in a continuous downward spiral. This may be an opportune time to consider the protection offered by Chapter 13 or Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

While bankruptcy may seem to be a drastic step to take, and not ideal for every consumer, it may certainly offer a way out of a desperate situation. From the two available personal bankruptcy options, Chapter 7 is commonly suited for individuals without a regular income and may seem the most severe. Chapter 7 bankruptcy may discharge most unsecured debts, including credit card debt, but entails the liquidation of most to cover creditor claims.

Improved credit score may positively affect credit card debt

Michigan consumers who are considering applying for credit, such as a mortgage or other loans, will likely realize the importance of a high credit score. There are various ways to improve one’s credit score, though understanding the process is essential. Going about it the wrong way could actually damage the credit score. Care should also be taken to maintain manageable credit card debt while working on increasing the score. A high credit score may ensure better interest rates on loans.

The credit limit on a credit card affects one’s credit score, and having the credit limit increased will raise the credit score. While credit card issuers often automatically increase credit limits on cards with low limits, a consumer has to apply for a higher limit on cards that already have high limits. This is where care should be taken. Every application made for new credit is called a hard pull – or hard application -- and every hard pull reduces one’s credit score.

Beware of unsuspected medical debt damaging credit scores

Michigan residents may be interested to learn that failure to pay medical debt can negatively affect their credit reports without them even being aware of the debt. Because medical debt is not like a loan where an individual knows in advance what his or her commitment will be, it is quite possible for an unsuspecting patient to be unaware of separate amounts that are charged. A man in another state recently related his predicament when he applied for a credit card, responding to a zero percent interest offer. The application was declined because of an outstanding medical debt that dated back to 2012.

After suffering a stroke, the man was hospitalized, and his medical insurance paid the bill. He subsequently received a bill from the medical center for room charges. He believed that his insurance carrier had paid the money and that he was not responsible for the additional amount. He failed to settle the bill, causing it to go to collections and negatively affect his credit score. However, he was informed by his insurer that he was obligated to pay a portion of the bill.

Shopping mall bankruptcy converted from Chapter 13 to Chapter 7

A dormant Michigan shopping center, The Village at Knapp’s Crossing in Grand Rapids, filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy 10 months ago. However, the owner of the property failed to draft a reorganization plan to the court’s satisfaction, and the judge converted the application to a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The development was intended to be the area’s first lifestyle shopping complex, but reportedly failed from the start.

Court records show debts of $11.5 million to banks and the cities, along with legal costs. The reorganization plan that was presented failed to break even and fell short by over $324,000 per year. It was reported that details about the insolvency sale have not been finalized. It is unknown whether the complex will be sold as a complete unit, or sold separately.

Overwhelming credit card debt? Debt settlement may offer way out

Michigan consumers with mounting debt may not know how to resolve the situation. Those with overwhelming credit card debt may want to consider negotiating debt settlement with their creditors. The services of companies offering to arrange settlements are available, but the fees for the service is typically substantial, and positive results are not guaranteed.

Before starting the process of negotiating with creditors to settle for partial payments, it may be best to list all debts with respective outstanding balances and how far in arrears each debt is. A good way to prioritize them is to list the ones with the highest interest rates at the top; however, paying off the low amounts first may provide some sense of accomplishment. The next step would be to calculate the maximum amount that is affordable, while not losing sight of one’s day-to-day living costs. To start negotiations, individuals may want to advise the creditor of his or her inability to submit regular payments, in an attempt to get negotiations going.

Medical debt arrears may negatively impact credit scores

Michigan consumers may be aware that research suggests that one in every three Americans is having difficulties in paying medical debts. With medical debt in collections affecting credit scores, many consumers find it almost impossible to secure loans, or credit for buying large items such as cars. Even once medical debt is settled, if it was in collections, it still has a negative effect on an individual’s credit score.

Medical expenses are often not anticipated, and individuals cannot save up for emergency procedures, heart attacks or vehicle accident injuries. There is often a significant time period between the date when the medical debt was incurred, and the date when insurance payments are submitted. Medical debt is often handed over to collections within this time-lapse, and unfairly reflects on an individual’s credit score.

Consequences of missed payments on credit card debt

Many Michigan consumers have likely experienced that sinking feeling when month-end approaches, and they realize that there is just not enough money to pay all due debts. Some may have to decide what payment to miss -- utility bills or credit cards. Individuals may not be sure what the consequences are of missing a payment, however. If this is a rare occurrence, it may be better to ensure somehow that credit card debt payments are kept up to date.

When a payment on a utility bill such as electricity is missed, the provider may not immediately report the matter to the credit bureau. If the consumer settles the late payment before the debt is handed over for collection, it may not have any negative effect on one's credit rating. However, if the issue is not resolved timely and the account is handed over to collections, the information will remain on the consumer's record for seven years.

Makers of camera that sees through walls file for Chapter 7

Many individuals and businesses have fallen victim to the challenging economic climate over the last five years. Michigan residents may remember TIME Magazine’s list of best inventions that was published in 2009. One of the top 50 inventions was a camera that used millimeter waves to see through and into objects. It was expected to make a significant impact on the market. The manufacturers of this ingenious piece of technology recently filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Walleye Technologies Inc. is the manufacturer of the camera that was professed to be capable of seeing through walls. It was highly recommended for use in construction and home repair. In the bankruptcy documents, the assets of the company were listed as $23,100 and liabilities were estimated at approximately $2.5 million.

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