Medical bills are a major problem for many families.
It is well documented that medical debt is one of the leading causes of consumer bankruptcy . This is true in San Antonio, throughout the Rio Grande Valley, and across the country.
But even for people who try to pay their bills on time, discrepancies concerning medical bills and insurance payments can leave a bad mark on credit ratings.
Consider the recent case of a Texas family whose 9-year-old son had to go to the emergency room after running into the branch of a tree on his bike.
The boy’s family was insured, but the insurer failed to pay the $200 ambulance bill, despite months of follow-up calls by the insured party, Ray White.
Finally, Mr. White paid the bill out of his own pocket. But damage to his credit reports was already done. Nearly six years after the accident, when he tried to refinance the mortgage on his house, he found out that the unpaid ambulance bill had cost his credit score about 100 points.
This was despite the fact that the bill was the insurance company’s responsibility, not his. As a result, White had to pay an additional $4,000 to secure a more favorable interest rate.
The case illustrates how confusing and potentially harmful the convoluted medical billing and insurance process can be for anyone. Even an otherwise savvy consumer can be hurt by it.
Until the system is reformed, consumers must be on guard it comes to medical bills and their potential consequences.
Source: “Discrepancies on Medical Bills Can Leave a Credit Stain,” Tara Siegel Bernard, New York Times, 5-4-12