When medical emergencies occur, most individuals rush to the nearest hospital for immediate care. Treating an injury, for example, becomes the priority. Patients may not have time to determine if their insurance plans cover the doctor or surgeon providing the needed care.
The Times-Tribune reports that about one-third of Kentucky’s residents with private health insurance plans received surprise medical bills. A 2018 study found that patients often received unexpected bills from out-of-network doctors. Many patients believed their insurance plans covered the physicians providing care during emergency hospital visits.
Unanticipated medical debts may cause severe financial problems
An inability to choose between hospitals or doctors may lead to uncontrollable medical debt. Patients could receive statements for medical services not covered by their insurance plans. Surprise billing may also reflect higher rates because of treatments received from out-of-network providers.
Published research revealed that a surprise charge added an average of $2,011 to each patient’s bill. Many individuals also require time off from work to recover from medical emergencies. The unexpected medical expenses often contribute to overwhelming patients’ budgets.
Errors may result in medical bills sent to collection agencies
Surprise health care bills could contain billing mistakes requiring several months to correct. While they remain unpaid, providers may send the bills to collection agencies. CNBC notes that approximately 43 million Americans have medical bills sent to collections. With growing unpaid debts, credit scores decrease and could cause problems when refinancing a mortgage or applying for loans.
Individuals facing financial hardship from medical bills may find that bankruptcy provides an option for relief. Their credit cards may not enable them to pay off their surprise healthcare bills. Bankruptcy, however, may discharge unexpected debts, including those from out-of-network hospitals and health care providers.