To run a successful medical practice or hospital, you need to be able to get paid in full for the services you provide. If you are a doctor or work on the business side in a hospital in the state of Texas, you know the aggravation of medical debt collection. This is a problem the medical community all over the country faces but in Texas, there are state-specific challenges to deal with. Here is the current state of Texas medical debt collection.
Medical Debt in Texas
Debt, in general, is a problem in the United States and Texas is one of the “leaders” in this issue. 71 million Americans have debts that are currently in collection. Texas is second, only to Louisiana, in the percentage of residents who have debts in collection. A hefty 44% of all Texans face collection which equates to approximately 12.7 million Texas residents or, almost 18% of the total number of Americans with pending dent collection. A big portion of this debt is related to medical bills. The overall median medical debt in collections for a person in Texas is $850.
Texas Medical Collection Laws
Medical debt collectors in Texas are beholden to the Federal laws on the books that relate to debt collection. These can be found by looking at the Federal Trade Commission website. There are some Texas-specific laws that creditors need to know. One is that Texas is a homestead state which means, in most cases, a debtor’s home cannot be taken away to pay a debt. Also, wages can only be garnished in Texas in certain cases and unpaid medical bills are not one of them. These and other Texas laws relating to medical debt collection can be found on the Texas Attorney General’s website.
There is another, lesser-known, law in Texas that applies specifically to the timing of medical billing. A Texas civil statue states that you must “bill a patient or other responsible person for services provided to the patient not later than the first day of the 11th month after the date the services are provided.” This makes the timing of medical billing even more crucial in Texas.
Problems Faced by Doctors and Hospitals Texas
While the issue of medical debt collection is not unique to Texas, many of the problems it causes here are. One of the biggest problems facing Texas doctors and hospitals is the financial viability of hospitals located in the most rural areas of the state. 131 rural hospitals across the country have closed their doors since 2010 and 23 of them (or just under 18%) have been in Texas. In addition to these hospitals that have closed, about 50% of Texas’ 150 or so rural hospitals are in financial danger.
Another challenge facing Texas doctors and hospitals is that the state has some of the largest amounts of uninsured residents in the country. There are more uninsured people in Texas than California even though the west coast state has 40% more people. These two factors are big challenges for doctors and hospitals in Texas and a major reason why medical debt is such a huge concern.
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