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Overcharges cause search for relief from medical debt collectors

The cost of medical care has been a hotly debated topic in the United States over the past few years. Although lawmakers have taken steps to attempt to lower medical costs for consumers, it turns out that many people may still being charged high prices for medical care in Washington and other states in the nation. This has caused many to seek lasting relief from medical debt collectors.

It is estimated that one in five adults in the United States will be pursued by debt collection agencies regarding medical debt in 2014. This accounts for approximately 51 million individuals being contacted by medical bill collectors, according to a recently released study. About $21 billion in medical bills was collected in 2012. However, the researchers believe that the medical treatment consumers are paying for may be overpriced.

The researchers discovered that errors in hospital billing have caused overcharges by as much as 26 percent. Also, 63 percent of adults in the country believe that their final medical bills were more than what they had expected when they first sought treatment. Additionally, 57 percent of Americans say they are confused by the medical bills they receive. There are also wide disparities across various hospitals for charges for identical treatments.

These factors have played a significant role in consumers in Washington and other states being overburdened with medical debt. However, there are various solutions available for people to obtain relief from medical debt collectors. One option is to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which has the ability to discharge all unsecured debts. Medical bills are considered unsecured debts, therefore making them potentially dischargeable.

Source: Sacramento Business Journal, "Study: Medical bill collectors will contact 1 in 5 Americans", Kathy Robertson, Oct. 27, 2014

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