By: Robert J. Nahoum
Medical debt collection has become a hot topic in recent years, as healthcare costs continue to rise, and more people struggle to pay their medical bills. According to a study by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (â€œCFPBâ€), around 43 million Americans have medical debt on their credit reports, with the average amount owed being around $579.
However, there have been several recent developments in medical debt collection that are aimed at making the process fairer and more transparent for patients.
- The CFPB has issued new guidelines for debt collection agencies that handle medical debt. These guidelines require debt collectors to provide more information to patients about their rights and the debt collection process. For example, debt collectors must provide patients with a written notice that includes information about the debt, the original creditor, and the patient’s right to dispute the debt.
- Several states have enacted laws that limit the amount of interest and fees that can be charged and other consumer debts.
- Some hospitals and healthcare providers are taking steps to help patients avoid medical debt in the first place. For example, some hospitals are offering financial assistance programs that help patients pay for their medical bills based on their income and ability to pay. Others are offering payment plans that allow patients to pay their bills over time.
- The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) has been updated to require credit reporting agencies to remove medical debt from credit reports once it has been paid or settled. This is intended to help patients avoid long-term damage to their credit scores as a result of medical debt.
- Some advocacy groups are pushing for more transparency in the healthcare pricing process, which they argue will help patients make more informed decisions about their healthcare and avoid unexpected medical bills. For example, some states have enacted laws that require healthcare providers to provide patients with upfront pricing information for common procedures and services.
While medical debt collection is still a complex and often challenging issue, these recent developments offer some hope for patients who are struggling to pay their medical bills. By providing more information and transparency, limiting fees and interest charges, and offering financial assistance programs, hospitals and debt collectors can help ease the burden of medical debt and make the process fairer for everyone involved.
If you need help settling or defending a medical debt collection law suit, stopping harassing debt collectors or suing a debt collector, contact us today to see what we can do for you.