New York’s health care debt collection process has changed throughout the years. However, the number or NY citizens in medical debt have not. A majority of these debts come from doctors or ambulance rides that, surprisingly, aren’t covered in their network. These surprise bills have forced Americans and the health industry at large to reevaluate billing practices in order to negate the rise of medical debt.
Here are some New York medical debt collection statistics and laws that you should be aware of if you are a medical professional or civilian.
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New York Medical and Health Care Debt Collection Statistics
Almost half of the country is in debt, with the majority of those unpaid balances coming from medical bills. The average unpaid medical debt balance averages out to about $580. A vast majority of New Yorkers (about 15%) have found that they have received emergency treatment within the course of a few months. However, around 7% of those patients are uninsured.
The 2016 report showed that 7% patients between the ages of 19 and 64 are uninsured. While this number has seen a decrease in 2012, this number still negatively affects doctors and hospitals who find these patients have no immediate way to pay for the medical expenses. Eventually, these doctors will send off their unpaid accounts to a New York medical debt collection agency.
Problems Faced by New York Doctors and Hospitals
Lack of payment can lead to staff cuts, longer hours, and debt of their own. Hospitals have tried to remedy this loss by cutting back on necessary medical equipment, staffing hours, and even payment. This can often lead to insufficient care from overworked doctors or lack of available services in lieu of proper medical equipment. Doctors have also realized that their salaries are being more narrowly negotiated because hospitals simply can’t afford to pay doctors at a higher wage if the patient debt is too large.
New York Debt Collection Medical Laws
Around 2006, New York set laws into place to protect patients from aggressive debt collection calls.
New York law also dictates that medical institutions and professionals must provide patients with the option for payment plans and/or alternative payment options.
The Statute of Limitations for New York is six years. This refers to the amount of time a medical establishment has to sue a patient for non-payment. The clock starts ticking the moment the patient receives their first bill and restarts after their most recent payment.
Medical debt still affects a patient’s credit score. Doctors typically do not personally sue their patients for unpaid bills, rather, they sell their unpaid patient expenses to a debt collection agency. The agency in turn will contact the former patients for payment.
There are now strict rules set against debt collectors about contacting patients for medical and health care debt collections. They cannot harass, bully, or contact patients in unethical manners to try to procure a form of payment. And according to The Atlantic, “New York and eight other states have passed comprehensive laws protecting patients from surprise billing.”
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