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From the Emergency Room to the Courtroom: How to Handle Medical Debt

Posted by Marcus Steverson | Nov 16, 2020

Approximately 137 million Americans reported financial hardship due to medical bills in 2019. With the threat of the global COVID-19 pandemic, now more than ever people are seeing physicians and visiting hospitals. But in the United States, the process of medical billing and coding can be almost as complicated as the medical issues themselves, and most people don't understand how to navigate receiving a large bill in the mail.

 Not all hospitals and doctors are the same, and there is no uniform process for collecting medical debt. Some patients quickly receive bills while others may not learn about the debt until they receive a demand letter for non-payment. For patients with health insurance, time is of the essence for getting bills submitted to your insurance provider for payment. It is important to take an active role in this process to ensure that your bills are properly submitted to your insurance carrier. In some cases, people are left believing that insurance denied their claim, when in reality, the doctor's office did not properly submit the bill. There are also many situations in which a patient has more than one insurance company, or uses public assistance, and claims are not processed through all of the providers like they should be.

 Even for patients without the benefit of health insurance, it is important to participate in the medical billing process. The healthcare marketplace is confusing and irrational – procedures can vary wildly in how much they cost; with a repair for a broken hip costing $20,000 in some areas, and $60,000 in others. The price people pay for procedures is often “negotiated” by their insurance companies, while patients without insurance feel doomed to pay high prices. However, nearly all hospitals and many doctor's offices routinely offer “self-pay discounts” to patients who inform them that they have no insurance, and it is possible to realize significant savings by asking for one.

 Sometimes, what starts as a trip to the emergency room ends up in the courtroom, having been sued by your medical provider. It is extremely important to hire an attorney who understands the medical insurance landscape and who can push back against companies seeking to collect from you. If a case proceeds to a trial, arguments regarding the reasonableness of charges are often discussed, as well as what (if any) documents you signed and whether you were fully informed of what your patient responsibility would be. Many times, a hospital provides a corporate witness who simply reads information off a billing document to tell the court what you owe. It is important to hire an attorney who understands how to challenge these witnesses and who can show the court that the amount you're being asked to pay doesn't add up. 

 At the Holland Law Group, we have experienced debt defense attorneys who understand medical debt, the insurance claims submission process, and how to negotiate your bills to more reasonable amounts. We can assist you to verify whether your insurance claims have been submitted properly, and shift the burden to the plaintiff to prove that they properly notified you of any problems with coverage along the way. We understand the workings of Florida law, can challenge the amounts you've been asked to pay, and can help you reach a reasonable settlement with your medical providers to get you out of the courtroom with a fresh start. The Holland Law Group serves clients throughout the state of Florida in Manatee, Pinellas, Broward, Miami-Dade, Sarasota, Hillsborough, and many other counties from coast to coast. If you've been sued by your medical provider, please contact us for a no-cost consultation to discuss how we can help you with your medical debt.

About the Author

Marcus Steverson

Marcus Ray Steverson earned his Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies from the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Florida. He then went on to attend Barry University School of Law, graduating in the top third of his class, and has been admitted to the Florida Bar since 2016.  Marcus has ex...

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