Posted on Tuesday, May 20th, 2014 at 5:00 pm
St. Elizabeth Medical Center is the largest medical provider in Northern Kentucky, serving thousands of patients daily. In addition to its five area hospitals in Boone, Kenton, Campbell and Grant counties, St. Elizabeth also owns multiple medical practices in areas ranging from physical therapy to business health and women’s health. While St. Elizabeth can be a great force for good for the Northern Kentucky community, they are also known as an aggressive bill collector that will file lawsuits against its patients for collection of bills, or send bills to collection agencies. Even if you are insured, St. Elizabeth can file a lawsuit for the portion of your treatment bill that is not covered by insurance.
You Have the Right To Reduce or Eliminate Medical Bills
If this happens to you, as a Kentucky citizen you have rights to help reduce or even eliminate the medical bill in its entirety. This is especially important for medical costs, because unlike many other types of debt a medical bill can cost enormous amounts of money and can be totally unexpected for even the most diligent and reasonable person. I speak from experience – my son had complications at birth that caused medical bills of nearly a million dollars. We were fortunate that her employer had insurance to cover the vast majority of these bills, but many people are not that fortunate.
You Could Try to Negotiate Lower Payments
If St. Elizabeth (or any other medical provider) has sent your bill to collections or is suing you for full payment of the bill, don’t despair. You need to take action (and quickly!), but you do have options. First, be aware that you can often negotiate your medical bill down to a fraction of the total bill. This is because Northern Kentucky medical providers often bill from a “chargemaster”, which sets an arbitrary price for services the hospital provides. All health insurance companies, as well as Medicare and Medicaid, negotiate reduced rates from the chargemaster. For this reason, most medical providers don’t actually expect to receive the full amount of the bill they have given you, although it is quite rare for any Northern Kentucky medical provider to negotiate below the amount they have agreed to pay a health insurance company for any given treatment. If you want professional help negotiating down your medical bills, there is a cottage industry of people that are familiar with Medicare guidelines that can try to pressure health care providers into reducing their bills to a more reasonable amount. You can also try a debt consolidation company, and there are several that service the Northern Kentucky area or operate nationwide.
The Problem with Negotiators and Debt Consolidators
The central problem with both a private negotiator and a debt consolidation company, however, is that they have no power to force the medical provider to do anything. They are only asking permission. If an aggressive medical provider, such as St. Elizabeth, refuses to negotiate, you will have paid money to the negotiator or debt consolidation company for no result. Often, a medical provider that will not negotiate will decide to sue instead. Courts in Boone County, Kenton County, Grant County, Gallatin County and Campbell County routinely see such lawsuits and rarely – if ever – side with the patient. They are courts of law, not courts of fairness, and the law is on St. Elizabeth’s side.
Wiping Debts Clean with Chapter 7 Bunkruptcy
This is where a Chapter 7 bankruptcy can be very important. In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, your medical debts will be wiped out completely. You can also choose a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, in which you would pay back a reasonable portion of the medical debt before having the remainder of the debt wiped out. The attorneys at Lawrence & Associates are skilled bankruptcy practitioners, and we have helped hundreds of people discharge medical debts and receive a fresh start on life. At our Fort Mitchell, Kentucky offices, Lawrence & Associates can counsel you on how to file bankruptcy, discharge the greatest amount of debt possible, keep all of your assets through the bankruptcy, and get control of your financial situation.
It is key to understand your rights when deciding to file for bankruptcy. If you are considering filing a bankruptcy, contact the experienced attorneys at Lawrence & Associates. We can help!
Contact Us (859.371.5997) for a Free Consultation