“ Mounting evidence shows that chaos in medical billing is not just affecting our health care but dinging the financial reputation of many Americans” – One mistake can affect your credit rating!
by JONATHAN M. METSCH, DR.P.H., LLC
Jun 19, 2014 | 488 views | 0 0 comments | 1 1 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Like most everyone I know I don’t look at the EOBs (Explanation of Benefits) I get from Medicare and United Health Care. Do you?

Recently a New York Times article http://www.nytimes.com * noted “LIKE most people, I am generally vigilant about paying my bills — credit cards, mortgage, cellphone and so on. But medical bills have a different trajectory. I (usually) open the envelopes and peruse the amalgam of codes and charges. I sigh or swear. And set them aside for when I have time to clarify the confusion: An out-of-network charge from a doctor I know is in-network? An un-itemized laboratory bill from a doctor I’ve never heard of? A bill for a huge charge before my insurer has paid its yet unknown portion of a hospital’s unknowable fee? “

“I would never countenance the phrase “60 days past due” on my Visa card statement. But medical bills? Well... with the complex negotiations that determine my ultimate payment, it often takes months to understand what I actually owe. Unfortunately, I may be playing a dangerous game: While the bills themselves frequently take months to sort out, medical debts can be reported rapidly to credit agencies, and often without notification. And even small unpaid bills can severely damage credit ratings.”

Part of the problem is that there are few standards governing medical debts: One billing office might give you — or your insurer — 60 days to pay before pursuing collection. Another might allow you to pay off a bill slowly over a year. Many will sell the debt to collection companies, which typically take a cut of the proceeds and decide when or whether to report unpaid debt to credit agencies. The problem is accelerating for several reasons. Charges are rising. Insurance policies are requiring more patient outlays in the form of higher deductibles and co-payments. More important, perhaps, is that while doctors’ practices traditionally worked out deals for patients who had trouble paying, today many doctors work for large professionally managed groups and hospital systems whose bills are generated far away, by computer. “Meanwhile, patients are right to worry. When Matt Meyer, who owns a saddle-fitting company in New Hampshire, set up a monthly payment plan after some surgery, he was distressed to notice that the invoices came from a debt collector. “I had no idea this was considered debt,” he said, and wondered: “Are they reporting that” to a credit agency? Good question.”

*to read the full NYTs article “ When Health Costs Harm Your Credit” by Elisabeth Rosenthal, highlight and click on open hyperlink http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/09/sunday-review/when-health-costs-harm-your-credit.html?_r=0

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