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Significant number of Americans surprised by medical debt

Before making an appointment with a physician or scheduling a procedure, the first thing that most patients do is inquire if that institution accepts their health insurance. However, loopholes in health insurance rules can result in consumers being confronted by sky-high bills for procedures that they believed were covered. Unfortunately, medical debt can be tremendously difficult to conquer for Washington residents.

The Consumer Reports National Research Center conducted a survey of Americans with health insurance, and what it found was surprising. Nearly a third of all people with insurance received an unexpected medical bill because their health insurance did not pay as much as was expected. Another 72 percent did not know that they retain the right to appeal a bill for services they believed necessary to either an independent health care expert or the state, meaning that most people simply are not sure how and where they can address this issue.

But where are these unexpected medical bills coming from? Although a primary care physician might refer a patient to an in-network hospital to have a procedure done, there is no guarantee that the doctors who staff that hospital are also in-network. In that same survey, one out of every seven people in America experienced a mix-up with in-network facilities and out-of-network doctors or labs.

Even with the recent efforts to reform health care, the sheer expense of so many medical procedures means that one tiny mistake or insurance loophole can land a person in an unimaginable amount of debt. Nevertheless, a successful discharge of medical debt in Chapter 7 bankruptcy can be the beginning of a new path in life. When faced with a future full of financial uncertainty, debtors in Washington often find that the decision to file for bankruptcy is often the most appropriate course of action to take.

Source:, "Nearly 1-In-3 Privately Insured Americans Received A Surprise Medical Bill In Last Two Years", Ashlee Kieler, May 7, 2015

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