Ok, sorry to beat the drum here. I know I promised an update on rent-to-own contracts, but I keep getting sucked into this surprise medical bills issue. It really galls me. We try to encourage folks to take advantage of their fresh start in bankruptcy by making good financial choices moving forward. How can folks make good choices though, when the information they need is concealed from them. It doesn’t matter if the concealment is on purpose or just the result of a stupidly complicated system. The reality of nasty unanticipated medical bills remains regardless of why.

So this Commonwealth Fund report set me off today. The report presents quite a bit of data on recent consumer experiences of health insurance. Aside from the relentlessly positive positioning (“Half of Adults in Marketplace Plans View Their Premiums as Affordable” means that half of adults do not find their premiums affordable), the report seems pleased to report that surprise medical bills occur at the same rate in marketplace plans vs. employer-provided plans. Wow, that’s great news! Over 30% of respondents received unanticipated medical bills. If you only look at emergency department visits, that rises to 37%! At least everyone suffers equally. We wouldn’t want anyone to unfairly escape the injustices of the system.

Let’s take a look at a more objective source. Consumer Reports (cited in the previous study) reports the following highlights:

  • Seven out of 10 Privately Insured Americans Give Their Plan Good Grades (70%)
  • Many Americans Would Complain about an Unexpected Medical Bill (62%
  • Over a Third of Privately Insured Americans Had a Problem with Their Insurer
  • Thirty Percent of Privately Insured Americans Received a Surprise Medical Bill
  • Only Twenty-Eight Percent Satisfied with How Insurance Billing Issue Resolved (53% not satisfactorily resolved)
  • Consumers Unaware of Health Insurance Rights and State Entities (72% don’t know they have a right to appeal)
  • Most Americans Are Not Complaining to Government Agencies

One can draw many conclusions from these highlights (and do read the report). The big picture here is this is a system that doesn’t work, and people who have been wrongfully billed don’t even take advantage of the options they do have.

If you have a surprise medical bill and don’t know how to navigate it, get it touch with us. We’ll help you maximize your outcome no matter where you are in the process. Hopefully we don’t have to file a bankruptcy case, but that’s a huge negotiating lever we have when we talk with these collectors for you. Don’t delay though. The longer you wait, the more likely we’ll be filing that Chapter 7 for you.