Medical debt is one of the most prevalent types of debt affecting Americans. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the problem has only gotten worse. In 2020, a survey revealed that 46% of survey respondents had outstanding medical bills. More than 50% of respondents reported having been subject to medical debt collections at some point.
Medical debt is a leading factor in two-thirds of all bankruptcy cases. At Daic Law, our debt defense lawyer in Houston has worked with numerous families facing bankruptcy since the start of the pandemic. Below, we offer some information about medical debt and what you can do.
Causes of Burgeoning Medical Debt
Long before the COVID-19 pandemic started, millions of Texan’s felt the weight of medical debt. Healthcare insurance is expensive and often hard to come by. Many people with insurance have high deductibles that are less than affordable. And then there are disparities in access to medical care that continue to burden more vulnerable and low-income populations. All of these factors are causes of medical debt that threaten the stability of Texas families.
Surprise Medical Bills in Texas
A surprise medical bill is one that you get from a healthcare provider who is outside your insurance network. This often happens after emergency room, urgent care, or doctor’s visits where you don’t even know that the provider you are seeing is out-of-network.
If you get a surprise medical bill, you can contact the provider’s office and discuss the situation with them. Sometimes they will accept a lower payment or negotiate the total cost. Other times, however, they simply stick the patient with the bill that the patient never anticipated.
Hospitals Suing Patients During Pandemic
Another cause of burgeoning medical debt in Texas is the continued efforts of hospitals to sue patients with medical debt. Even in the midst of a global pandemic, Texas hospitals continue to file hundreds of lawsuits. Not only are hospitals still filing lawsuits, but courts are allowing default judgments to resume. The result is thousands of patients with growing debt finding their bank accounts garnished or frozen.
Advocates are concerned that these efforts will continue to threaten the stability of the economy in Texas. As of December 2021, there were more than 700,000 people unemployed across the state. The total number of unemployment insurance claims topped 127,000 as of January 2022. At this tedious time, debt collection lawsuits are the last thing that Texas families need.
Disparities in Healthcare
In Texas, almost one in three people living in predominantly minority communities have medical debt. Of those, 29% are subject to debt collection efforts. These figures are 6% higher than among Texan’s in predominantly White communities. Minorities – primarily Black and Hispanic individuals – are also insured at far lower rates than White individuals.
How You Can Fight Medical Debt
If you have medical debt that you just can’t seem to resolve on your own, it’s time to take action. Contact Daic Law to discuss your options for debt relief. Our debt defense lawyers in Texas have the knowledge and resources you need to find relief. We know how to protect your rights and fight back against medical debt.
Some of the ways that you can fight medical debt and possibly reduce your total debt or payment amount include:
- Financial Assistance: Many hospitals offer financial assistance to individuals who can’t pay hospital costs. You will need to contact their financial office and discuss your situation. You may need to provide proof of income before being approved.
- Negotiate: Contact your healthcare provider(s) and see if you can negotiate a lower total amount due, or lower monthly payments. A debt defense lawyer can help you with this.
- Ask About Insurance Rate: Sometimes, hospitals will allow you to be charged the insurance rate, also called the “chargemaster” rate. Instead of the full cost, you are billed for the same cost that the insurance company would pay. This is often much lower than what patients are billed.
- Don’t Pay Medical Bills with Credit Cards: If you pay medical debt with a credit card, you often end up paying more due to the interest the credit card company tacks on.
If you are unable to negotiate a better price or get financial assistance, you may also want to consider your options for bankruptcy. Bankruptcy can be a good debt relief option for individuals, families, or businesses that are struggling with low or limited income. To find out if you qualify, contact Daic Law to speak with a bankruptcy lawyer.
Contact a Debt Defense Lawyer in Houston
If you are struggling under the weight of medical debt, contact Daic Law today. Our debt defense lawyers serve clients across the state. From Dallas to Houston, Harris County, Tarrant County, and more. Contact our debt defense lawyer in Houston to find out how we can help you.
For a free consultation, call us at 877-893-6040, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or schedule a consultation on our website.