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Rise in unpaid medical bills causing upfront payment requests

With the pricy cost of medical care these days in New Jersey and around the country, medical debt is a serious possibility for almost anyone. Unfortunately, accidents that result in injuries can happen unexpectedly, and sometimes, unexpected health conditions occur. 

Recently, one sports and medicine center has started to reevaluate their methods for billing clients for medical bills. The doctors at the medical center initially tended to wait approximately 180 days before billing patients. However, because medical debts were not being paid, the medical center has begun to send patient information to collectors after only six to eight weeks.

According to the Medical Group Management Association, cited in a recent NPR article, practices that deal with multiple fields of medicine have seen a significant increase in bad debt within recent years. This is money that practices were owed, but were unable to receive payment for.

Even with quality medical insurance, sometimes bills for surgeries can total thousands of dollars.

The medical center mentioned above has also offered patients the opportunity to consult with a financial adviser at the center to discuss surgery options and the financial obligations they can expect before the procedure occurs. Additionally, they reportedly offer to set up a payment plan for patients who cannot afford to pay the entire fee upfront.

By utilizing these strategies and others to obtain payment, the center has been able to cut its bad debt over the past couple of years. However, the insistence to pay up front or to pay within six to eight weeks might prove problematic to patients who live paycheck to paycheck, spending their money on essentials like food, rent, utilities, and other needs; leaving them without much left after these bills are paid. In fact, this requirement can be problematic even for those with higher incomes because medical bills can be so steep.

If you find yourself in a position where you struggle to pay medical debt or are dealing with collectors, the consultation of an experienced debt relief attorney might help you to understand your options to move forward.

Source: NPR Blog, “With medical debts rising, some doctors push for payment upfront,” Jenny Gold, April 25, 2014

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