No one chooses medical debt. Yet, many Americans are in dire financial straits because of it. A recent study from the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) revealed that many people in households struggling with medical debt had used up all or most of their savings, taken on significant new credit card debt, borrowed money, or taken on a second job or additional hours at work to pay medical expenses.
Too often, people who have been through a serious illness, have chronic medical conditions, or just face ordinary medical problems without insurance end up structuring their lives around managing medical debt.
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U.S. Medical Costs are Out of Control
In response to the same poll mentioned above, 26% of adults aged 18-64 said they or a household member had faced difficulty paying medical bills in the past 12 months. Nearly half of those reporting difficulties said the medical debt had a major impact on their households.
That’s no surprise, given the skyrocketing costs of healthcare in the U.S. In the two decades between 1988 and 2017, total healthcare costs more than tripled, to $3.4 trillion annually—and that’s after adjustment for inflation. Average annual healthcare costs per person top $10,000.
Even with medical insurance, high deductibles, non-covered expenses and high out-of-pocket caps can make medical costs unmanageable.
Managing Medical Debt
For many people, managing medical debt is more stressful than dealing with other types of debt. Concerns about ongoing access to medical care and the high-pressure tactics of some medical debt collectors often push people to make serious mistakes. For instance, when people pay medical bills with high-interest credit cards, they’re rarely thinking about how much extra that debt will cost in the long-term, or the possibility that they’ll be unable to keep up the payments at all.
Others gut retirements accounts or take equity out of their homes to pay medical bills, jeopardizing future stability.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
Pushing Back on Medical Debt Collection
From a legal standpoint, medical debt is just like any other unsecured debt. Debt collectors must comply with a wide range of federal and state consumer protection statutes, including the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Debt collectors who break the rules may be sanctioned by the court. They may even have to pay you damages.
If they want to garnish your wages or take other property, they have to get a judgment first—and that means that they have to prove their case in court. But, many debt collectors and debt buyers don’t have the information they need to win a lawsuit. Instead, they count on you not showing up in court. When that happens, they can get a judgment against you without having to prove their case.
At every stage of the collection process, debt collectors and debt buyers bank on you not asserting your rights.
When you decide to fight back, the whole game can change.
DebtCleanse™ Can HelpWe’ll give you the strategies and resources you need to put debt collector stress behind you.
When you sign up with DebtCleanse™, we’ll team you up with an attorney in your state. Your attorney will notify collectors to direct any future communication to their law offices. This should immediately stop harassing calls and letters.
Your attorney will also interview you and comb through your documents for potential violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) or other federal and state laws. Those violations can create leverage to challenge your medical debt and other types of debt. If creditors and debt collectors don’t follow the law, your attorney can hold them accountable.
Often, debt collectors stop collection action as soon as they receive a letter from an attorney, focusing their efforts on people who are less likely to fight back. And, many consumer protection statutes require debt collectors who break the law to pay your attorney’s fees. So, our members may be able to resolve debts without paying anything beyond the enrollment and membership fees.
DebtCleanse™ can put you back in control with creditors and debt collectors.