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Baltimore Consumer Protection Law Blog

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.

Which ways of coping with health-related bills are effective?

When a Marylander is hospitalized, he or she must first concentrate on returning to good health. But often, worries about how to pay for excessive medical expenses may be troubling and impede recovery. Although a patient may have health insurance, some medical expenses may be inadequately covered by medical insurance plans such that these bills become unmanageable. However, there are creative ways to deal with medical debt.

Sometimes, the extent of the bills may cause so much stress that a patient may forget to check the bills in detail for any inadvertent errors, such as charges for an extended room stay, second charges for the same medication or charges for a treatment that was not provided. The medical care provider should be notified immediately of the discrepancy. Always cross-check insurance payments against all treatments covered under the policy. Sometimes the insurance company may deny a claim. In this case the patient may be able to appeal the decision and submit evidence to show why the treatment should be covered.

What to do when faced with insurmountable debt?

Even though debt may have been incurred due to unforeseen or emergency events, Maryland residents know that debts not paid in a timely manner can become problematic. Debt can affect securing a job, promotion or add to insurance payments. However, all is not lost if debt relief is handled correctly.

Debt reduction first requires assessing finances to judge how much can be paid to creditors. Once a comfortable payment amount is identified, a debtor may be able to negotiate an affordable repayment plan with creditors. Also, keeping an account of day-to-day expenses to evaluate, if any of those amounts can be directed towards debt payment, can also help reduce debt levels.

Medical debt relief by challenging denied insurance claims

The high cost of medical care is a concern for Baltimore, Maryland, residents and all fellow Americans. Sometimes, it's difficult to meet medical expenses out of pocket, so medical insurance is very much a necessity. However, having insurance may sometimes offers no assurance that expenses incurred will be paid, because insurers often deny coverage for a number of reasons.

This scenario causes the average American to face the scary specter of medical debt, which can seem impossible to overcome and can become a cause for contemplating bankruptcy. However, one provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly called "Obamacare," allows those denied benefits to appeal an insurer's decision. Such an appeal can involve just the insurer or, as an alternative, a separate external agent.

Foreclosure activity increases in Maryland

Homes are the most valuable possessions of many Marylanders. They are not only an important investment, but they have powerful memories attached to them. Sometimes, people use their homes as collateral for a loan and then find that they cannot make the payments. The lender may then initiate foreclosure proceedings on the house in order to recover their money and the homeowner may, in turn, lose the home.

According to a report, in the first half of this year, 613,874 properties had foreclosure filings in the United States. This indicated a 23 percent decrease from the same period last year and a 19 percent decrease from the last six months of 2013. The report also stated that June 2014 saw the least number of foreclosure filings, one in 214 houses, since the housing bubble burst in July 2006.

Studies explore reasons for credit card debts

Consumers in Maryland often utilize credit cards. Although these can be helpful tools to establish and uild credit, it could also be a negative tool that could put them in the hole. It is important to keep a healthy financial life, but there are events in life that might cause consumers to over use their credit cards.

The statistic from a survey conducted the National Foundation for Credit Counseling stated that three times more people were more embarrassed by their credit card balances than their weight. Another study conducted recently shows that people who have to carry forward the card balances every month often experience resentment or even rage.

Agencies to abide by laws while collecting medical debts

The majority of people living in Maryland or elsewhere in the country have probably had to visit a hospital at some stage of life. Once a person reaches the age of 18, if uninsured, the person is responsible for personal medical expenses. Following treatment, a hospital will typically itemize the bill by sending statements detailing the procedures, medications and tests that were given. If the patient does not pay the medical charges to the healthcare providers within a stipulated time, the debt may be sold to debt collectors.

There are various options to deal with medical debt. The person may pay all the medical bills, offer a settlement or seek a repayment plan. In certain cases the person may negotiate with the collection agency to reduce the amount of medical debt. This may help the person clear the debt by paying a lesser amount. The debt remains on a credit report for seven years, after which time it no longer appears.

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