Being in the medical profession means that you are in the business of making people healthier, helping people deal with chronic problems, and saving lives. However, even though those things are a huge part of what medical professionals do, they are also in the business of being a business. Making sure you get paid for your services is an incredibly important side of the industry as well. When you have patients who owe a debt that they will not pay, you need to know the laws around that medical debt and what your options are for collection. Here is everything you need to know about Georgia Medical Debt collection.
Medical Debt in Georgia
Medical debt is a major problem all over the country. About 40% of American adults of working age either have medical bills that they cannot pay or that they are in the process of paying off. When you add the number of elderly Americans who are also in Medical debt, it adds up to almost 80 million people dealing with this issue. It is so prevalent that medical debt accounts for over 65% of all personal bankruptcy filing in America. Unfortunately, Georgia is one of the states with the worst medical debt issues. They are in the top 5 states of most medical debt with around 30% of the population having unpaid or past-due medical bills.
Georgia Medical Collection Laws
Medical debt collectors in Georgia must follow all the Federal laws related to debt collection such as the Federal Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). Other federal debt collection rules can be found on the Federal Trade Commission website (www.ftc.gov). In Georgia, there are some additional things you need to know as a medical biller.
The Georgia Department of Law Consumer Protection Division states, “According to the Georgia Fair Business Practices Act [O.C.G.A. Section 10-1-393(b)(14)], a hospital or long-term care facility has six business days after you have been released from its care as an inpatient to provide you an itemized statement of all charges for which you are being billed.” Furthermore, under Georgia law, consumers have the right to inquire in advance about estimated charges for routine office visits, routine treatments, and lab tests because there is no regulation or cap on what medical providers can charge for a medical procedure.
Problems faced by Doctors and Hospitals in Georgia
These problems with medical debt are both a cause and a symptom of the struggling Georgia Healthcare system in 2019. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution recently published an article about the state of the Georgia healthcare system and found that it had issues and ranked below the national average in many categories. The state ranks 35th in the country in overall healthcare outcomes and 46th in access to quality healthcare and preventive services. Georgia’s uninsured population is about 8% higher than the national average and, since 2010, 7 hospitals have closed which is the 3rd highest number in the country. Much of this is related to medical debt as Georgia hospitals reported that in 2017 they delivered around $2 billion of health care service they were never paid for.