Not only can medical emergencies be physically debilitating and emotionally challenging, they can also be financially devastating for many people. In 2012, approximately one in every five adults had a collection agency contact them regarding overdue medical bills. This is about 41 million people, including many people living in Michigan. About seven million individuals had their accounts transferred to collections due to a billing mistake.
Luckily there are ways for consumers to avoid having their medical bills being transferred to a collections agency, which could be detrimental to their credit reports. When consumers fall behind on their bills, most will stop communicating with their medical provider. However, many experts believe this is a bad idea because when medical providers cannot reach consumers they will be forced to send accounts to collections.
Another action which consumers could take is to confirm the accuracy of any charges from a medical provider. Many times medical providers make mistakes which could cause consumers to be charged more money than they should be. For example, health insurance companies have reported a rate of error at 7.1 percent. Although this is a large improvement compared to 2010 figures of twenty percent, it is still a significant number of errors.
Unfortunately despite taking all the actions available, some consumers in Michigan and other states will still find themselves unable to keep up with their medical bills. This can leave them in dire financial situations. However, in these situations many consumers will decide to file for a personal bankruptcy, which can possibly discharge money owed for medical debts.
Source: Los Angeles Times, “How to stop medical bills from going to a collection agency,” July 5, 2013