Illinois medical debt relief: New collection standards possible

Both Congress and the IRS are drafting legislation and rules that could limit the ability of healthcare providers to collect past due medical bills. In response, the healthcare community is attempting to adopt new rules for itself regarding collections. For Illinois patients looking for medical debt relief these new rules could be helpful.

The Healthcare Financial Management Association, ACA International and others are working together to come up with a set of guidelines that they believe will allow them to continue their attempts to collect on past due medical bills. A large portion of the guidelines focus on educating patients on their responsibilities regarding billing. Patients would be informed about the process used to resolve accounts, including all of the options available to patients to pay their outstanding balances.

This would include a date that begins the clock running regarding an outstanding balance. The patient will then have 120 days to pay the balance. Once the balance is paid, adverse reporting to the credit bureaus would have to be removed within 45 days. The guidelines would also set standards for the handling of a delinquent account by a collection agent.

Even with these measures, there are still many people in Illinois that won't be able to pay their medical bills. For some, the only way medical debt relief can be achieved is through filing for bankruptcy protection. A prolonged illness or catastrophic injury can end up costing a person thousands of dollars even with health insurance. Many people in this position are also not able to earn the kind of money they were earning prior to these events. Filing for bankruptcy may be the only way to wipe the slate clean and allow the filer to start over.

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

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