Do Hospitals Write Off Unpaid Medical Bills?

Hospital Write Offs of Unpaid Medical Bills

There is no one, clear cut answer to the question of whether hospitals write off unpaid medical bills. Some hospitals do this a lot, some do not do it at all, and there is a wide range of hospitals in between. Many factors go into how and if, a hospital writes off an individual’s bill.

According to a report of 4,985 hospitals in the U.S., by the American Hospital Association, in aggregregate, unpaid medical bills totaled 5.8% of hospital expenses

Unpaid Medical Bills

Most hospitals categorize unpaid bills into two categories. Charity care is when hospitals write off bills for patients who cannot afford to pay. When patients who are expected to pay do not, their debts are known as bad debt.

In a 2012 report of charity-care and bad-debt numbers for a one month period, it was found that the bottom 25% of hospitals spent 0.69% or less of budgets on charity care. The median hospitals spent 1.52%. The top 25% of hospitals reported spending 2.73% or more of expenses on charity care. The bottom 25% of hospitals reported putting 1.43% or less of expenses toward bad debt. The median hospitals reported bad debt totalling 2.45% of their expenses. The top 25% of hospitals spent 3.89% or more of expenses on bad debt.

Financial Assistance

Many hospitals, especially not for profit hospitals, have financial assistance programs. These are designed to assist people in paying for medical care they normally could not afford.

Even though facing medical care needs without insurance is scary for most people, a benefit to this is that the uninsured get an automatic bill reduction no matter what their income is. Those with lower incomes may even qualify for more of a reduction.

It is not recommended that people go without health insurance for many different reasons including, Americans now have to pay a fine if they are uninsured. In the face of huge medical costs that feel like you might as well not be insured, even the lousiest insurance providers and plans provide a certain level of protection such as a maximum out-of-pocket costs and pre-negotiated rates with health care providers.

Few people have health insurance policies that cover all of their health care costs without the insured having to pay any money out of pocket. The reality is, most insurance plans come with co-pays for every time you, see a health care provider, have a procedure or treatment, pick up prescription medicine, and go to the hospital. As well, most plans require that the patient pay a percentage of their medical bills no matter how high they are. If you are insured and have a plan that only covers part of your medical bills, the lower your income and the more of the medical  bill that you are responsible for, may qualify you for financial assistance from the health care provider or facility you owe money to.

The more you are informed about new health care bill facts, the more you may be able to figure out ways to save on unpaid medical bills.

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