Medical debt relief & forgiveness options
Do you need help with medical debt? There are two popular medical debt relief programs and one do-it-yourself strategy to help with reducing high medical bills that you can’t afford to pay. Here’s a summary of the three options.
- Your medical bills can be negotiated down with debt settlement, where a portion of the debt can get forgiven. Medical debt settlement programs can offer you this type of relief. To learn about debt settlement services with an IAPDA Accredited organization, visit this page next.
- Debt validation can dispute a medical debt, where you may not have to pay the debt. As an additional benefit, after a medical bill is proven to be legally uncollectible, the collection agency can no longer report the account on your credit reports. To learn more about debt validation, visit this page next.
- As a first step: request from the hospital’s financial hardship department or billing department if they don’t have a financial hardship department, that they send you an “itemized billing statement,” breaking down every charge on a particular medical debt. Let them know you’re currently dealing with financial hardship and can’t afford to pay the bill, so as a first step, you want to verify the charges are all accurate. Just by requesting this itemized breakdown of your invoice, you can eliminate a lot of the debt. The billing department will review the itemized billing statement before just sending it to you and will delete any outrageous charges that could seem to be “predatorial” if seen by a government official or state regulator. For example, if the hospital charged you $35 for a bandaid, the billing department may take this charge off before sending you the itemized breakdown of the bill. We’ve heard stories from consumers, where they called and asked for an itemized billing statement, and the hospital ended up coming back at them, saying, “the debt has been resolved as a courtesy.”
Try to stay current on monthly payments before needing to sign up for a debt relief program. It’s not easy to have a high credit score, and by falling behind on payments to use a debt relief program, that results in damage to credit scores. All debt relief programs result in some type of negativity on a person’s credit report, and there is no way around that!
Review your medical bills in detail & negotiate the debt
If you haven’t fallen behind on your medical bills as of yet, it’s essential to do everything you possibly can to stay current. After falling behind on payments, your credit score will take a big hit.
First, contact your insurance provider and ask if they can cover the remaining balance that insurance didn’t pay on your medical visit.
Bill Fay, a Staff Writer at Debt.org, recommends that “When dealing with a hospital, it’s a good idea to have all of the charges fully explained to you by the billing office. Medical bills can be confusing, and auditing every detail is the best way to protect against honest mistakes or outright fraud.”
Let the creditor know that you don’t agree on the charges but would be willing to make small payments to avoid having to file for bankruptcy and to preserve your credit score. Let the creditor know that you can provide proof of income to show that you are experiencing a severe financial hardship due to xyxyxyxyxyxyxy …. whatever caused your financial hardship. Explain that you can’t afford the current payment they are asking you to pay.
Even though you don’t intend to file for bankruptcy, you can tell your creditor that you’re contemplating bankruptcy, and you hope that they’re willing to offer you an affordable payment plan today to help you avoid having to file for bankruptcy. The creditors know that if you do file for bankruptcy, there’s a chance your entire medical debt can get wiped away clean, and they won’t get paid anything, so they may be more inclined to work with you at that point.
Can’t afford to pay your medical bills and creditors refuse to work with you?
In this case, a debt validation program could be your best starting point, over debt settlement.
Debt validation is a person’s legal right to dispute the validity of a debt. Medical debt can often get invalidated and proven to be legally uncollectible. A legally uncollectible debt is one that doesn’t have to get paid and can’t legally remain on credit reports.
Help With Medical Bills After Insurance
With debt validation, you could potentially resolve the debt for around 45% of what you owe. Try this debt calculator on your own and compare each debt relief program. Include all of your unsecured debt where it says, “Enter Your Total Debt Amount.”
Do you have high credit card debt and medical bills?
A debt validation program could resolve medical bills and credit card debt, all inside a single payment. Unlike a debt settlement program, with debt validation, your creditors don’t get paid but instead disputed.
Below is another example of a successful debt validation case. The consumer paid off $4,000 in medical bills on a credit card, but then he couldn’t afford to pay off the credit card debt. He ended up going delinquent on payments, and it was eventually sold to a collection agency.
That $4,000 medical debt rose to $4,376.39 after adding collection and other unauthorized fees to the balance.
What was the solution?
Debt validation disputed the debt, and within thirty days, the consumer received a letter from the collection agency agreeing to stop collection on the medical bill and remove it from the consumer’s credit.
And here’s the letter –
How Debt Settlement Works (with Golden Financial Services)
If a medical debt is proven to be valid, debt settlement can be used to settle the account for around half. You can use debt settlement as a last resort to avoid bankruptcy.
A portion of your medical debt could end up getting forgiven with debt settlement, making your balance more affordable to pay off.
A few of the main downsides included with debt settlement include derogatory notations left on credit reports and potential tax consequences.
With debt validation, when successful, the debt and its associated negative marks can get removed from credit reports, and there are no tax consequences on an invalidated debt.
There is always the chance of getting sued over an unpaid medical debt. You can avoid a lawsuit by settling the summons before the court date, which a reputable debt relief company would facilitate.
Help With Medical Bills For Low-Income Applicants
If you don’t have sufficient savings built up to offer a lump sum payoff, you can get approved for a debt settlement payment plan.
You would make one affordable payment each month based on what your budget illustrates you can afford. The funds you pay each month would accumulate in a trust account. So, rather than paying your creditors each month, you would be making one reduced payment into a trust account. As the funds grow, over time, the law firm will begin negotiating with each of your creditors to settle your medical bills one by one.
How to Qualify for Debt Settlement for Medical Debt?
You do need to have at least $5,000 of unsecured debt to qualify.
Eligible accounts include medical bills, credit cards, personal loans, and just about any unsecured debt.
Debt Validation to Help With Medical Bills For Low-Income Applicants
Debt validation forces each of your debt collectors to prove that they are legally authorized to collect on the debt and that you owe what they claim you owe. Collection agencies must produce complete and accurate records to prove a debt is valid after receiving a debt validation dispute package, which often they don’t have.
Consider the fact that banks will sell delinquent medical bills for pennies on the dollar. At that price, do you think they put much care into transferring the debt, and it’s related documentation to the collection agency? No, they don’t!
Banks will email a spreadsheet of hundreds of debtors’ names to whatever collection agency bids the highest, selling this data as “leads.” Once your account is sold to a collection agency, the original creditor is done with it.
What happens when I fall behind on medical bill payments?
Eventually, a bank will write the debt off as a loss on their books and get reimbursed 100% of the monetary loss through tax credits, but banks get compensated before their clients even fall behind on payments. When a bank issues a loan, the bank illustrates that loan as an asset on their profit and loss statement.
Banks use assets to show depreciating value and will also assume a certain percentage of borrowers default on monthly payments before it even occurs. Banks do this to show less profit, getting reimbursed for projected losses before they even happen. Just like if you get in a car wreck, your car insurance covers it. Well banks, have banking insurance to protect them from losses.
What the law says about collection agencies and medical bills, that could result in you not having to pay the debt
By law, the information a collection agency maintains on behalf of debtors needs to be accurate and void of any unauthorized fees and charges. However, collection agencies will add on all types of fees that you never agreed to after taking over the debt. Just look at the debt they say you owe, is this what you agreed to?
Unauthorized fees get added into your balance over time, that you never signed for initially, making it near impossible for the debt collection company to prove the debt is valid if disputed. Debt validation requests the collection agency provide the original agreement that you signed and a copy of all monthly accounting records to validate the alleged balance. If the collection agency can’t produce these records, the debt becomes legally uncollectible.
After a debt gets disputed, collection agencies will often quickly respond with a letter agreeing to stop collection on the debt. This letter is a defensible record proving the debt to be invalid, it’s the icing on the cake to the program, meaning, you don’t have to pay it. (see example letter above)
If any new collection agency tries to collect on the invalidated account in the future (which very likely may happen), that defensible record can be used to illustrate the debt was already proven to be invalid, forcing the new collection agency to cease all collection efforts immediately. On a validation program, the debt relief company stays with you up until the Statute of Limitations on the debt expires.
That means, even if you’ve graduated the program, if at any point a new debt collector comes after you for the debt, the debt relief company will follow up with the new collection agency on your behalf. You get a written guarantee that if the debt is not resolved you’ll be fully refunded, even if the occurrence is after the time you’ve already graduated the plan and you’ve already paid all fees.