Medical Debt – Prevent it, Conquer it, End it For All.
- Working to educate the public about your rights when facing hospital out of pocket costs that are unaffordable.
- Seeking stories from people who have received collection notices from agents for hospital payments.
Hospitals in the state should be explaining how to get assistance with paying your outstanding bills, no matter whether you have insurance that is not meeting your needs or are uninsured.
IMPACT OF MEDICAL DEBT:
- Negative impact on health: studies show that these debts can rollover into further medical issues such as stress & high blood pressure — leading to even more medical costs/debt.
- People who owe large debts often have high levels of stress, leading to worsening physical and mental health.
- Patients in debt sacrifice accessing health care because of costs (e.g. delayed care, avoided care, cut pills, or didn’t fill a prescription).
- Negative impact on consumer credit ratings, leading to higher interest on loans, mortgages, & more.
- 2/3 of all bankruptcies filed in the United States are tied to medical expenses.
Errors in Billing that Languish Can Contribute to Medical Debt. Don’t ignore them. Check your hospital bills.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
- Review your insurer’s Explanation of Benefits or Medicare Summary notice. Get help from StateWide – call our SMP Hotline 800-333-4374
- Question the billing
- Ask for relief
- Appeal the bill
- Seek assistance from state & federal agencies
- Seek assistance in negotiating payment with the hospital
FEDERAL RULES HAVE CHANGED TO PROTECT CONSUMERS:
- The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced a new rule, the agency will only report a medical bill after all other collection efforts have been exhausted, largely eliminating coercive credit reporting as a debt collection technique.
- The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) implemented a streamlined process to make it easier and faster for lower-income veterans to get their VA medical debt forgiven, already providing relief to over 10,000 veterans and saved them more than $10 million in copay debt.
- The White House announced in September 2023: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will propose a new rule to make clear that medical debt cannot impact the credit scores of the American people.
STATEWIDE IS WORKING IN COALITION TO END MEDICAL DEBT:
In 2021, interest rates on medical debt assigned in NYS court settlements were reduced from 9% to 2%.
In 2022, NYS Governor enacted legislation to:
- stop wage garnishment in medical debt court judgements
- stop liens on primary residences in medical debt court judgements
- require medical practices to provide patients notice of facility fees before billing
In 2023, NYS Governor enacted legislation to:
- Require ALL hospitals use the same financial assistance application form (going into effect soon)
- prevent medical debt from being reported to credit agencies.
In 2024, we are working to improve the hospital financial assistance program eligibility and prevent hospitals from suing patients to collect debt. Governor Hochul proposed some improvements in the budget; after April 1 we’ll have additional information.