Medical Debt Collection

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Medical Debt Collection

The cost of medical care is quite high and many patients run up an extensive hospital or doctor's bill. Then they find that they cannot possibly pay off the bill so they forget about any payments hoping it will just go away. For many health care professionals, this is what they encounter everyday and since they do need this money to pay for their office space, secretaries and supplies, they need to collect on the debts. Medical debt collection is one area that some collection agencies specialize in and are hired by health care professionals to collect on overdue accounts.

What Are the Benefits of Medical Debt Collection?

Medical debt collection frees up your office staff to work on patient files. Instead of spending time typing up notices for overdue accounts or telephoning patients asking when you can expect payment, a medical debt collection agency can take care of it for you. Since a medical bill is considered the same as any other bill, a health care professional can report it to a credit bureau. A patient does not have to give his/.her consent for a medical bill to be sent to a collection agency, therefore you are not violating doctor-patient confidentiality.

When a medical debt collection agency contacts a patient regarding a debt, the only thing discussed is the amount of money owing. The agent will not discuss the treatment, which is private. Of course having the name of the health care professional may disclose the nature of the treatment in some way, it is never actually printed on any correspondence or mentioned in any telephone conversation.

When a health care professional passes an account over to a medical debt collection agency, the agent will do everything possible to recoup the payments. This includes sending out letters and making phone calls. There are limits on the way phone calls can be made, though. Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, collection agencies cannot call before 8 in the morning or after 9 at night. Other things an agency is not permitted to do is to call the debtors repeatedly, use obscene language on the telephone or make threatening statements. They are also not allowed to call a debtor at work.

Medical debts can be settled in court, if the creditor wishes to take that route when all other attempts at collecting the debt have failed. While a collection agency cannot contact a debtor at work or speak to one's boss about the debt, a court judgement could result in garnishment of wages. Then the boss will know all about the debt. However, a collection agency cannot make threats of garnishing wages or threaten to sue. All of these documents have to come from the courts.

If you have unpaid debts from patients, you don't have to notify the patients when you plan to send the accounts to a medical debt collection agency. However, the law requires that you send out a written notification if you intend to send a negative report to a credit bureau because of the outstanding account.

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