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Baltimore Consumer Protection Law Blog

A lawyer can help a Baltimore resident handle medical debt

Medical expenses in Maryland can be staggering. Incurring medical bills through time can also lead people to major debt, sometimes leading as far as bankruptcy. Our law firm, with its 25 years of experience in defending consumers and aiding in debt relief, can be a friend and guide to help one out of the tricky situation caused by medical debt.

Medical debt often threatens the most vulnerable. The elderly, due to their physical vulnerabilities, may incur more medical debt than others, for example. New mothers are also vulnerable and may incur substantial debt due to prenatal care or childbirth. Some mothers may have also incurred expenses related to conception in the form of fertility treatments. Cancer or other serious illnesses can also leave Maryland residents with enormous and unexpected levels of medical debt.

How can a Maryland resident avoid foreclosure?

Foreclosure of a family's home can be a substantial negative event in a homeowner's life. Defaulting on mortgage payments for a main residence may force a family into homelessness. In addition to losing the family home, a foreclosure may adversely affect the future creditworthiness of the mortgage holder.

If the amount of debt owed by the mortgagee is higher than the value of available assets held by the homeowner, a deficiency judgment may be initiated against the debtor, which also can adversely affect one's ability to obtain credit. However, some steps may be taken at the beginning of a financial crisis to avoid drastic measures such as foreclosure.

How should Maryland debtors choose a credit counseling agency?

Many Maryland residents would probably agree that when debt is overwhelming meeting even day-to-day expenses, such as grocery and utility bills, becomes difficult. Therefore, selecting an adequate debt relief option is needed for a fresh start. The first step toward debt relief is receiving counseling. Debtors should be careful during this exercise, however, because credit counseling from an unauthorized agency can have severe detrimental effects.

Credit counseling services are meant to help the debtor manage their money and pay bills. Credit unions, Cooperative Extension offices, military service centers and a number of religious organizations in the United States offer credit counseling services, either for free or for a nominal charge. Additionally, there are non-profit organizations that offer programs under the name of the Consumer Credit Counseling Service.

What are the various ways of paying off medical debt?

In many cases, a patient or his or her family may not be able to pay one's medical bills themselves. In such cases, one may be compelled to take out loans in order to pay for them. The nation has a lot of people who are plagued with medical debt because of the high costs of medical procedures and pharmaceuticals.

There are a few ways of paying off one's medical debt or expenditures. One of the most common ways of paying off a medical expenditure is by contacting local state agencies and social services in Maryland. The Medicaid offices in Maryland may be able to help a person in need with their medical debt.

Credit card debt: a concern for many in Maryland

Most Americans, including those in Maryland, have a credit card. Credit cards let people purchase goods and services without money. But high credit card payments can often lead to huge debts, which the individual may never be able to repay.

There are many counseling agencies that may help individuals understand their financial situations with accumulated credit card debt. When seeking such professional help however, the debtor must be aware of the requirements for these types of companies. One should seek a counselor who is accredited with the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.

Maryland struggling to erase aftereffects of foreclosure crisis

Maryland homeowners may shudder to remember the subprime mortgage crisis which, in conjunction with the recent economic downturn, left many residents without a home. While some Maryland homeowners managed to avoid foreclosure by the skin of their teeth, they were later affected by the resetting of interest rates, which had been lowered temporarily as a measure of economic relief for the unemployed and underemployed. For a period of time, some homes were saved from foreclosure.

This salvation is unfortunately showing signs of reversal if the latest RealtyTrac report is to be believed. The report states that the number of foreclosures in August of this year increased by almost 20 percent from the corresponding statistic a year ago. However, when analyzed on a month-to-month basis, this increase jumped 71 percent. According to the report, this surge is a consequence of recently enacted state litigation that allowed banks to foreclose on homes deserted by owners who had defaulted on mortgage payments.

Insurance companies and the approval of medical expenses

Most Maryland residents who have medical insurance probably believe that every disease and injury is covered under their insurance plan. However, when faced with a medical emergency or condition that may test the limits and extents of a medical coverage plan, patients may end up paying extensive out-of-pocket expenses or deductibles, because there is no guarantee that every claim sent to an insurance company will be accepted.

If an insurance company does not accept and pay a claim, a person may be overburdened with unexpected medical expenses. Claims can be denied by an insurance company for a number of reasons, including if it is determined that a procedure was not required or if the outcome of the procedure lacked certainty. Claims can be denied due to treatment obtained out of the insurance company's network of providers, or it may be stated that an improper procedure was conducted.

Choose a debt relief option carefully

Almost all Americans are in debt and more than 30 percent have debt that is currently in collections. Many Marylanders wonder how to reduce their debt and get back to a life with less financial stress. While there are many options for debt relief, selecting the proper route is important.

Some may think that debt consolidation, debt settlement and debt management are the same, but they should be aware of the differences before proceeding with any of these options. Often, the best solution to eliminate debt is to receive credit counseling and create a debt repayment plan.

Maryland homeowners can stop foreclosure

Buying a home is a dream for many residents of Maryland and to fulfill it, many of them take a mortgage. However, making regular payments may not be possible for everyone, sometimes due to job loss, pay cuts or other financial emergencies. As a result, these Americans may face the possibility of losing their home.

Nonetheless, many people who are not able to pay their mortgages can qualify for government programs that will help them refinance their homes. The Home Affordable Refinance Program is one such program, and a home owner may be able to save almost $200 a month on their mortgage with it. According to the director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, some homeowners do not believe these numbers and believe the claims to be untrue, but this program could still help many homeowners.

Proceed carefully when using debt settlement for credit card debt

Marylanders know that making a purchase with a credit card is relatively easy. However, repayment can be difficult if credit card payments are not timely. This debt could be considered unmanageable, prompting the debtor to clear the balances using savings or liquidating other investments. In certain cases, even after exhausting all available liquid resources, the debt may not be cleared, and the person may face additional hardship due to the loans. When facing huge credit cards debt, it is wise to slow down and consider various options available to repay the loans.

One of the options available for repaying credit card companies is debt settlement. A debtor may negotiate with the credit card company to pay a lesser amount and also set aside a specific amount every month to make these payments. Often, a payment settlement may not be monthly but a negotiated lump sum amount.

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