Medical debt is one of the biggest blights afflicting American consumers today. Because injuries and illnesses can happen without warning, you may not be financially prepared when you incur substantial medical expenses. You may also get unexpected bills or be denied insurance for something you thought was covered.
Attorney Jeff Mehalic has seen it all. In more than 30 years of practicing law, Jeff has dedicated himself to protecting the victims of debt collection harassment, including medical debt. When Jeff has your back, you no longer must deal with debt collectors. They must deal with him. Here is a guide to the reality of medical debt in America.
Medical Debt Statistics
If you have medical debt in the United States, you’re not alone:
- More than 43 million Americans have medical debt, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
- Half of all overdue debt in the United States comes from medical expenses
- Most of that debt comes from seeing out-of-network doctors and ambulance rides
Surprise Medical Bills and Out-of-Network Doctors
Surprise medical bills from out-of-network providers are one of the most significant sources of medical debt, even among people who have health insurance. Doctors in your insurance network have contracted with your health plan to give services at a lower price. Out-of-network doctors can charge whatever they want. Your insurance will usually pay an out-of-network physician the same amount it will an in-network one. You will be responsible for the balance.
This is a problem because you may have no choice in the doctor you see. For example, if you have a medical emergency and call an ambulance, that ambulance will take you to the nearest emergency room whether it’s in your insurance network or not. It often comes down to luck. If you’re unlucky, you may be saddled with bills in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
A recent study by the Kaiser Family Foundation showed how much of a problem this is:
- 1 in 6 Americans have gotten a surprise hospital bill even though they have insurance
- 16 percent of all inpatient visits lead to at least one out-of-network charge
- 26 percent of patients admitted to a hospital from the emergency room got a surprise medical bill
- More Americans are worried about being unable to pay medical bills than any other expense, including rent, mortgages, car payments, and food. More than 67 percent of Americans are “very worried” or “somewhat worried” about not being able to afford medical treatment.
- 25 states have enacted laws that protect patients from surprise medical costs, and bills to do so federally have been introduced in both the House of Representatives and Senate.
Contact Our Medical Debt Attorney Today
Jeff Mehalic practices law alone. That means he’ll handle your case personally and will be intimately familiar with its details. You won’t be handed off to an assistant or junior partner. Jeff serves Morgantown, Wheeling, Martinsburg, and nearby areas of West Virginia. Call (304) 346-3462 today to schedule a consultation.