Because doctors are under an oath to help people, and laws ensure that no one goes without medical attention, it makes sense that many people getting medical attention are not paying their medical bills. Some do not pay because they can’t, and some don’t pay just because they are irresponsible.
Medical facilities and practices have had a hard time collecting unpaid medical bills over the years since the treatment has already been provided. For this reason, medical practices used to be willing to let their creditors pay on whatever terms they could. Some honest creditors would pay small amounts to try to eliminate their debts, such as $10 or $20 a month. Now, many of these unpaid accounts are sold to collection agencies.
Some medical practices will not provide services to individuals without insurance unless they sign an agreement with a company that provides no-interest loans with flexible payment plans, such as ClearBalance and CarePayment. The company pays the medical facility upfront and then collects their money back over time from the patient. The company is paid a fee from the medical facility for these services.
However, signing up for one of these loans still doesn’t guarantee that one will be able to afford to pay later. While the companies may be more lenient than a bank loan, the no-interest loans must still be paid back within a period of time, such as two or five years. This is a good option for someone who experiences an unexpected medical condition and has no money or health insurance.
Even with programs like these available to New Hampshire residents, individuals who are already strapped with bills can find themselves with one more bill they can’t pay. While the intent of the programs is good, medical debt remains a problem for many. It remains on their credit report for years and is sometimes passed from one collection agency to another.
This is a situation that many individuals or couples find themselves in. The best, and sometimes the only, option for those in a situation where they are drowning in unsecured debt such as medical bills is a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, many unsecured debts can be erased. This allows a debtor to have a fresh start, and they can begin to rebuild their credit and their lives.
bostonglobe.com, “Paying your medical bills is more complicated” Ann Carnes, Sep. 25, 2013