Need medical debt relief? New rules may help out

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Is medical debt from surprise medical bills hurting your credit?

You’ve got more options and more time than ever to get those bills cleaned up!

RELATED: Medi-Share & other health care sharing ministries: What you need to know before signing up

Medical debt relief could be on the way for you!

A new survey from Consumer Reports finds that more than one-quarter of Americans who have health insurance have been surprised by a medical bill that’s shown up in the mail.

They got hit with what’s called a balance bill. That’s the amount left over after your insurer figures out what they’re going to pay — and you get stuck with the remainder.

Some states, like New Jersey, are taking matters into their own hands to protect consumers.

The Garden State’s Out-of-Network Consumer Protection, Trans­parency, Cost Containment and Accountability Act goes into effect this fall and will help spell out to consumers what their plan covers and do away with excessive charges for medically necessary procedures.

Both of those measures will ultimately result in less balance billing. In fact, the law is expected to save health care consumers in the state almost $1 billion annually, Consumer Reports notes.

But in the absence of a similar law in your state, you’ve still got some ammunition on your side.

Equip yourself with this knowledge to help in the fight against exorbitant balance bills that lead to bad medical debt on your credit report!


Know the 180-day rule

Thanks to the National Consumer Assistance Plan (NCAP), an unpaid medical debt can’t be placed on your credit report until after 180 days have passed.

This window gives health care providers and the insurance companies they bill the necessary time to sort out complex billing issues.

Insurer paid medical debts must be removed from your credit file

Also under the terms of the NCAP, any lingering medical debts that do wind up on your credit report that later get paid by your insurance company must be stricken from your file.

If the credit bureau doesn’t comply, click here for directions for about how to challenge a wrongful debt on your file and get it removed yourself.

Hire a billing claims advocate

This is more of a preventative step to take before you get into big medical debt.

Billing claims advocates can significantly reduce what you owe by identifying errors on your bill, fraudulent charges and other ways a medical provider may have taken advantage of you financially.

Medical billing advocates are available in more than half of all states in the country. Visit or to locate one near you. Expect to pay between $30 and $50 per hour for their services.

If you’re uninsured and facing the prospect of paying full retail price for health care, this is a no-brainer for you!

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