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Dealing with Medical Debt

The Medical Information Bureau specializes in medical records.  The information in the MIB database is used by insurance companies to check your history before establishing rates for insurance for you.  When you request insurance from a company, they ask numerous questions, and at times, have to take health tests.  When noteworthy information turns up, that information is reported to the MIB.  If you are denied insurance based on the information contained in the MIB database, you are entitled to a free report, just as with credit reports.  You are also entitled to a free copy once a year.

Just as you should consistently monitor your credit report, you should monitor your insurance claims as well.  Because insurance companies and doctors communicate through codes, small errors, such as one misplaced digit can cause large problems.  If a claim is rejected, you should ask the reason, and request that the bill be resubmitted.  Make sure you are familiar with your coverage limits by reading your insurance contracts.  

In addition to knowing your covered benefits and the schedule of benefits, be sure to make note of any exclusions, limitations, and claims procedures.  Keeping track of your insurance information on this level can be a daunting task.  If it becomes too much, you should consider using a Daily Money Manager.  This person can help you keep track of insurance forms and bills.

Most of the time, hospitals don’t report your payment history to credit bureaus due to the fees they would incur.  As long as they do not (double check with them to make sure), you have some room to work with them if necessary.  Keep in mind, however, that once you hit an outside collection agency, it probably will reach you credit report, so do your best to resolve the debt before then.  

Be sure to stay in contact with the billing department if you are disputing a claim.  This way, they will be aware that you don’t consider it settled and they will be better able to help you by resubmitting the claim.  If you end up complaining to the insurance company, start with the claims adjuster.  If you are not satisfied, ask for the supervisor, followed by the unit manager, then the assistant manager, the claims manager, the regional claims vice president, and finally, the senior vice president.  If after all of this, you still cannot resolve the matter, a letter to your state insurance regulatory agency.  

If you are without insurance, let your doctor know so you can find out about discounts and payment plans.


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