After a devastating horse-riding accident in January 2017 landed him in the hospital for about 30 days, requiring trauma care and hospital-based therapy, Jeff Woodard considered himself lucky.The bills amounted to hundreds of thousands of dollars. But Woodard’s employer-sponsored health insurance limited his out-of-pocket maximum payment to $5,000. He reached that "within like a day," he recalled.His retired parents relocated from their small town in Massachusetts to help Woodard, now 27, who lives just outside of Denver, through his recovery. With their support, and regular outpatient therapy, he returned to working full time in just two months.MORE HEALTH NEWS: Inducing labor at 39 weeks may be better for mother and baby, USF study saysBut he didn’t expect another set of payments to haunt him and his parents for nearly a year, ultimately going to collections, and threatening to weaken his credit rating for years more.While medical bills are a leading source of personal … [Read more...] about When medical bills hurt your credit rating
Settling medical debt with collection agency
There are times when you can be right but still wrong.During one of my recent online chats, a reader wanted to know if a sibling was doing the right thing regarding his debt.“My brother has been sharing information with me about debt collectors,” the person wrote. “When you have an original debt and it is written off by the company or sold to a debt collector, how do you feel about requesting that the company show you the burden of proof that they now actually own the debt?”The reader’s brother has been challenging debt companies to verify that the debts are in his name.“When the companies can’t, he fights to have the debts removed from his three credit reports,” the reader wrote.Let me clear up some common misunderstandings about debt collection.When you stop paying on a debt — credit card, medical bills, auto loan — the original creditor may hire a company to collect the money for them.However, if this collection process … [Read more...] about Color of Money: When is it morally right to duck debt?
Last Updated Aug 4, 2011 12:23 PM EDT American Hospital Association, a lobbying group for hospitals, is urging the Obama Administration not to enforce a rule that requires healthcare providers to tell patients who has accessed their medical records. Although the AHA claims it doesn't want to add a new layer of bureaucracy in hospital management, nixing the rule would also keep patients in the dark about how easily accessed their "private" medical records are. Most of us imagine our medical records sitting unseen in a locked filing cabinet, only being read when the doctor herself needs to examine us. But under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996, telemarketers, debt collection agencies, the Social Security Administration and your boss all have access to some or all of your medical information under certain circumstances. Worse, electronic medical records in the databases of large institutions like hospitals are often open to any employee who has a … [Read more...] about Why Hospitals Don’t Want You to Know Who Looks at Your Medical Records
Some 43 million people -- or 1 in 5 Americans -- have credit reports marred by past-due medical bills. But many of these black marks may be the result of errors and inconsistencies in how medical debt is reported. "It is hard for consumers to navigate the medical debt maze and come out with a clean credit report on the other side," said Richard Cordray, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, on Thursday in discussing a new report by the agency. Not only is the system for reporting overdue medical bills "haphazard,"according to the federal watchdog group, but some collection companies also "park" medical debts on consumer credit reports without ever notifying people that they have a past-due bill. Some of these debts are owed and paid by insurance companies, according to the CFPB. But in some cases, consumers end up paying the bill anyway to protect their credit record. Even consumers who are meticulous about paying their bills on time can have past-due medical accounts … [Read more...] about 43 million Americans burdened with medical debt
Lee Song had already been caught forging checks when she swindled her former employer out of $127,122 by submitting phony payment vouchers. Yet, less than four years later, the Minnesota Commerce Department cleared Song to work as a debt collector -- a job with access to people's private financial information. Song is one of at least 743 criminal offenders in Minnesota who have been registered as debt collectors since 2005, a Star Tribune investigation has found. When offenders filled out state applications to be debt collectors, 75 percent of them lied about having a criminal past. The Commerce Department, which regulates collectors, routinely approves criminals to work in the collections industry without conducting background checks. "The system in this state for screening collectors is broken," said Patrick Hayes, a consumer attorney in Minneapolis. "These are people who can find out where you bank, where you live, even where your friends and relatives live, and the state doesn't … [Read more...] about Criminals land jobs as debt collectors