Illinois patients could find medical debt relief under the ACA

Through no fault of their own, a lot of Illinois patients end up struggling to pay their medical bills. Patients who are unable to avoid going to the doctor may find themselves hounded by collection agencies later on. Finding debt relief from medical bills isn't always easy, but the new Affordable Care Act, or ACA, may help.

The ACA is supposed to keep hospitals from using certain collection techniques they have used in the past. When patients are unable to pay their bills, each patient's situation is supposed to be evaluated to determine what, if anything, the patient can afford to pay. If the evaluation determines that the patient has a legitimate problem paying, the medical professional is supposed to give the patient some optional payment plans. Unfortunately, there are some hospitals that are not following the ACA, and some patients end up being sued.

Of course, there are still patients who are unable to pay despite efforts to work out an agreeable payment plan. In those cases, medical professionals may continue with the traditional collection efforts, including filing a lawsuit against the patient. At that point, the hospital or other medical professional may not be willing to reconsider the patient's situation in an attempt to work something out. When that happens, the patient may be left with few options.

Seeking debt relief through bankruptcy is a viable option for anyone who is struggling with medical bills. Filing for bankruptcy protection under Illinois law and the U.S. Bankruptcy Code could provide much needed relief and a fresh start. However, the process can be confusing and time consuming without the proper advice and guidance. Anyone finding themselves the position of needing bankruptcy protection may take comfort in discovering there is help available to conquer financial obligations that have spiraled out of control.

Source: Chicago Tribune, "Health care law protects some debtors from unscrupulous hospital collections," Elliot Raphaelson, Sep. 4, 2012

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