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Medical billing errors and debt in South Carolina

. The leading cause of personal bankruptcy in South Carolina and around the country is medical debt. While the government has tried to make health care more affordable, many households are struggling with this type of debt. According to a study by a consumer services company, Americans are paying three times more to third-party collectors for medical debt than bank and credit card bills combined. In addition, about one in five had a medical bill in debt collection in 2014. However, studies have found that consumers are consistently overcharged for medical bills.

More than half of Americans say they've received a medical bill that has confused them. This is because hospital bills are often riddled with difficult to understand language. About half of all the Medicare claims the government investigated in 2013 had medical billing errors, which had resulted in signifcant overpayments.

The price of medical care often depends on where it is received. One study found that hospitals charged more than 50 times for the same inpatient medical treatment than at other facilities. While American households lost an average of $2,300 in income between 2010 to 2013, their health care costs increased by $1814 during that same period according to one survey. The best way for consumers to avoid medical debt is to understand what is being charged and the cost of services rendered.

In a situation like this, consumers should assure that their personal information is accurate on a medical bill and understand what is covered by their health insurance. They should also keep track of medical services received and what has been paid for. If an error occurs, consumers should contact the billing department immediately. If the two parties disagree, it may be time to seek legal advice.

Source: MainStreet, "Americans Still Struggling with Unhealthy Debt of Medical Bills", Chris Metinko, October 31, 2014

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