Medical Debt Climbing

NerdWallet Health produced yet another survey and the results are quite interesting. This survey (conducted by Harris Poll) had a small sample size of only 2,016 adults, but the results may not be far from the truth across the United States. Here are some highlights of the survey’s findings:

60% of all personal bankruptcies are caused by medical debt

20% of Americans will be contacted by a collection agency in 2014 for their medical bills

63% of adults surveyed state their medical bills were higher than anticipated

57% are confused with their medical bills

The study also shows that nearly half of all Medicare claims analyzed by the OIG contained billing errors. Additionally, half of those error-ridden claims resulted in overpayments by Medicare.

Of those surveyed, 73% wish they had access to do price comparison. Although that may help them reduce their bills, I do not believe that would alleviate bankruptcy/collections issues. The best advice I have for patients such as these (and for all medical and dental practices) is to work with the provider to set up payment plans. Many practices now employ financial counselors who work with patients to help them understand their bills and responsibilities before receiving medical/dental care. If this is done properly, the patient can avoid bankruptcy issues. If the patient works with the provider on the payment plan, a collection agency will never be used.

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Contact ABISA, a consultancy specializing in solo and small group practice management. Visit us at ABISALLC.com.

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