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Doctors toughen up on debt collection

However carefully you plan for the future, it is all too easy to fall into debt. A sudden death, an accident, theft, all these things can change your financial situation in an instant. For people in Ohio and indeed across the United States, medical bills are a major contributing factor to financial concerns. You can’t help falling ill, but that cost can be great and now doctors are going to extra lengths to recover payments.

According to findings of the Medical Group Management Association, multispecialty medical practices have seen a startling jump in unpaid debts in recent years. Between 2008 and 2012 the figure rose by 14 percent. In response to this study, practices are altering their tactics on collecting the unpaid medical expenses.

One practice very much onboard with the new drive to clear patient debts is Louisiana’s Mid State Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Center. They now operate an electronic record system allowing them to see a patient’s insurance policies. This allows them to factor in a patient’s insurance deductible and give them an immediate idea of what they will owe for a procedure.

Many medical centers offer payment plans for those who can’t pay up front, but for those who refuse to pay at all, collection agencies come into play. Previously, it has been the norm for practices to wait around six months before sending a patient’s debt to collectors. However, with the growth of the problem in recent years, practices are being encouraged to start seeking collections in as little as six to eight weeks after a procedure.

Anyone who has had medical debts will understand why so many people struggle to pay. If this new drive to collect on payments takes hold in Ohio, it may leave patients worried about how they’ll cope. No one wants to face a collection agency, so if you are struggling with debt, it may be time to consider reorganizing your finances, or possibly starting afresh by filing for bankruptcy. An attorney can talk you through your options and help you decide which path may be best for you.

Source: MedPage Today, "Medical Debts Up, Docs Get Tougher About Payments," Jenny Gold, April 27, 2014

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