How Universal Health Care Impacts Medical Debt Collections

The health plan that President Obama is proposing is going to be efficient and effective. In order to be efficient it would have to be streamlined and working well, for example, there couldn’t be loads of bad debt sitting on the books. In order to be efficient, the bad debt would have to be collected and always try to be up to date or very minimal. Currently 5% of hospitals gross revenues are written off to bad debt and charity and this is before the implementation of the health care plan.

Some collectors have told me that they are worried that third party collectors or collection departments receiving payments through the proposed plan may take longer than an outside insurance agency or a personal payment could take to get paid. As debt collectors we are used to slow payers but always working on new ways that payments can be obtained more quickly rather than slower. With this new program, many collectors are worried that payments will be slower which we will be forced to accept since it is a government program. On November 25, 2008, InsideARM said that “Debt collectors who currently specialize in medical receivables shouldn’t expect fewer accounts, but the balances forwarded to them by clients may be smaller.” According to Kaulkin Ginsbergs Health Care Analyst Michael Klozotsky, “Just because you insure more people, it’s not going to drop people’s co-pays and deductibles”.

According to Paul B. Ginsburg, Ph.D, “For payment reform to reach its potential, Medicaid programs and private payers of medical care such as insurance companies should participate in developing new Medicare payment methods and follow them to the extent possible. Many health care providers have substantial market power and the ability to offset Medicare payment reductions with increases for private payers, so creating payment structures that are uniform across payers can increase the potential of payment reform to change provider behavior. If a public health insurance plan is a part of health reform, then an all-payer rate-setting structure could help establish a level playing field for all health insurance plans.”

The White House.gov website says, “The President has vowed that the health reform process will be different in his Administration – an open, inclusive, and transparent process where all ideas are encouraged and all parties work together to find a solution to the health care crisis. Working together with members of Congress, doctors and hospitals, businesses and unions, and other key health care stakeholders, the President is committed to making sure we finally enact comprehensive health care reform.”

The Administration believes that comprehensive health reform should:

o Reduce long-term growth of health care costs for businesses and government
o Protect families from bankruptcy or debt because of health care costs
o Guarantee choice of doctors and health plans
o Invest in prevention and wellness
o Improve patient safety and quality of care
o Assure affordable, quality health coverage for all Americans
o Maintain coverage when you change or lose your job
o End barriers to coverage for people with pre-existing medical conditions

What does it mean for your business if this health care plan protects families or consumers from bankruptcy or debt due to the costs of maintaining their health. How will consumers avoid the debt of health care costs to stay healthy when they cannot afford it? I am all for helping consumers stay out of debt, but have concerns about how this new bill protects consumers from the debt of medical bills and how will this affect third party collectors.

Small businesses are an important source of job growth in the United States. Firms with fewer than 20 employees accounted for approximately 18 percent of private sector jobs in 2006, but nearly 25 percent of net employment growth from 1992 to 2005. Many collection agencies are small businesses, and have many questions on how this plan will affect how they collect debt, how much debt they are able to collect and how much time they will have to wait to get paid if they get paid at all. Recently, during my consulting calls I was working with someone who is considering starting a medical collection agency and is worried there won’t be a demand for his services or any debt out there to collect based on this healthcare plan. In my opinion medical collectors should not worry about repercussions of the Universal Healthcare plan, there will still be plenty of work.

You can take steps now to prepare for this new plan, consider how you accept other government payments or deal with their offices and this may be similar. Set up policies and procedures now to use when the plan goes into affect. Once you start working with your policies when the plan is in place, you can tweak it to fit your billing and accounting practices. Just talking about it with your employees will help everyone to feel more comfortable with the plan once it is in place, everyone will have heard about it and will have an idea on how to handle those accounts immediately. The more efficient and effective you can be, the quicker you may get paid. Agencies can also assist with the insurance collections and will find an increase in that line of business, the providers will find it hard to educated, train and hire staff to deal with the additional follow up and if they move or shift workers from dealing with self pay accounts this would not compensate for the increased workload of collecting from the insurer. As one reader stated, “Anything the Government gets involved in becomes more complicated and complex, clients will need their collection agencies to help them deal with this even more.”

Free enterprise will always prevail. The insurance companies that are out there now, aren’t going to go away once we have this new healthcare option. The biggest impact I have found that debt collectors foresee with this new plan is how slow they may be paid or how slowly their clients may be paid. Start working with your medical clients and help them work with their patients so that they can serve as an advocate and show empathy for each individual situation and help them to work on a realistic payment plan – your job as the collector – enforce that payment plan. The longer you wait, the worse off you are – catch accounts that need help early and you will be ahead of the game.

Debt Collector Harassment – The Health Implications and How to Stop It

When the economy is in decline and job losses are having a serious financial impact on millions of people, many people find themselves in a situation where they are unable to manage their debt. The recent financial crisis has made it even more difficult for people to pay their bills. If you have experienced debt problems, and are being harassed by debt collectors, then you are aware of how it can affect your emotional and physical well being.

Dealing with a vicious debt collector can be an extremely stressful experience. Unfortunately, debt collectors have become even more dishonest and heavy-handed when making collection phone calls Collectors who abuse debtors will engage in such activity as threats, and calling in the mornings, afternoons, and at night many times each day. They will also use profanity and call people nasty names. They can even engage in such harassing activity with a debtors family and employer which can cause a strain on relationships and even run the risk of job termination.

This type of harassment can have a serious impact on one’s health. It can cause a constant state of high anxiety, stress, and increase one’s blood pressure. It can also cause depression, loss of appetite, loss of sleep, and migraines. As well, it can increase irritability and put a serious strain on relationships. The best thing people can do for their health and well being is to stop the harassment.

Although it is the law that a debt collector must stop calling people who send a letter instructing them to do so, there are many collectors who willfully ignore this law. The Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act was created to prevent debt collectors from harassing, threatening, and lying to their debtors. When a collector violates the act and engages in bad behavior, the first step you should take is trying to resolve the issue. You should try to arrange an affordable repayment plan. You should also request a copy of your debt statement so you can review it for accuracy. If the collector is unwilling to work with you and the calls continue, you should mail them a letter telling them to stop calling. In legal terms, this is known as a ‘cease and desist’ letter.

After trying to resolve the problem through negotiation and writing a letter instructing them to stop, and the calls continue, the next step would be to meet with an attorney who is well versed in ‘fair debt collections.’ US law mandates that if a debtor has a lawyer, the debt creditor must stop contacting the debtor and communicate only with their lawyer. As well, if the attorney finds that the debt collector has violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, he or she may suggest taking civil action against the collections agency. If you proceed with litigation against the debt collector, you should keep a hand written record of the harassment such as when they called, time of the call, the length of the call, and what the collector said during the call. It would be extremely beneficial to record the phone calls.

The current decline in the economy has left millions of people unable to get themselves out of debt. There are many debt collectors that are now ruthlessly pursuing them. If there is an abusive debt collector that is causing you emotional upset, you need to know that what they are doing is illegal. An attorney with the experience and knowledge about the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act can provide valuable assistance to stopping harassing collection phone calls.

Are Debt Collectors Harassing You?

If you’re buried in debt and are struggling to find a way out, you have enough problems to worry about without being harassed by debt collectors. You should know that Federal law protects consumers from certain aggressive tactics by debt collectors

It can be incredibly stressful to hear the phone ring over and over again, and you simply wish that the debt collectors would go away. No one would dare say that the situation is easy to go through, but you could make it a little bit more bearable by knowing your rights as a consumer.

Debt collectors must follow certain rules when contacting you. They may not call you in the middle of the night to harass you, since they are obligated to call during normal business hours. They may not threaten you or use profanity when contacting you.

You certainly don’t need to be threatened on the phone when you are already in this stressful situation. If you are, you have the right to complain to the creditor to which you owe the debt as well as your state consumer protection agency. It may take a pretty big violation for you to bring a lawsuit against them, but it is possible.

In serious cases you may actually have your debt canceled so that the debt collection agency does not have to go to small claims court and defend itself against your lawsuit. Again, it might take repeated violations and you probably need some witnesses, but do keep the option of a lawsuit in mind.

Some unscrupulous characters have even been known to show up at your door and pretend to work for the sheriff’s office while demanding you hand over your possessions. In this situation, call the police instead of giving in to their demands.

Of course if you do have the means to pay off your bills in a timely manner, you should do so as soon as possible. However, if you’re like the many people who have gotten behind and cannot afford to pay off their debts all at once, don’t panic. It’s not worth losing your health over this. Still, you should try to pay whatever amount you can to keep the companies from pursuing legal action against you.

These tips may not eliminate your debt by themselves, but it always helps to know your rights as a consumer. While you should do your best to honor your debts, you don’t have to put up with unreasonable methods from debt collectors.