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Hospitals respond to collection laws that protect patients

We recently wrote about negotiating medical bills or shopping around for the best price before undergoing treatment. This can certainly help individuals avoid serious debt or at least proactively reduce the total amount of debt that they may face. However, medical debt is and often will still be incurred -- in most cases, without choice.

In order to protect patients when it comes to collecting on these debts, legislators and regulators wrote the Medical Debt Responsibility Act and IRS 501(r) regulations.

For instance, one term in the Medical Debt Responsibility Act would require deletion of medical debts from credit reports 45 days after the debt was resolved. The 501(r) would place limitations on healthcare providers, such as a 240-day debt collection window.

In a reaction to these regulations, hospitals and collection agencies that are standardizing collection practices where medical debt is concerned. The Healthcare Financial Management Association teamed up with ACA International to help draft these guidelines.

This standardized set of rules is called “The Medical Debt Resolution Overview.” This set of regulations would include guidelines not just for collection after a debt becomes overdue, but from the time that the patient’s bill was created. Part of these proposed guidelines includes the patients too -- or at least patient education about the process from the start.

For the many Ohio residents that will likely incur medical debt, there are attorneys who can help provide debt resolution options that give individuals the fresh start they may need. One of these options includes Chapter 7 bankruptcy. 

Source: Forbes, “Hospitals, Debt Collectors Rush To Create Standards For Collecting Patient Debt,” Evan Albright, Sept. 4, 2013

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