In 2010, Robin, a Tampa, Fla., lawyer, was involved in a major car accident that almost cost her her life. The road to recovery was a long one and included multiple surgeries and hospital stays. Despite having health insurance, her bills eventually reached a whopping $197,000. But it wasn’t until she really pored over the statements that she noticed some major errors.
“A mix of in-network and out-of-network medical providers were billing me for whatever my insurance company wasn’t paying, even after I’d met my deductible,” Robin, 57, says. She requested that we not use her full name because she’s still negotiating down her debts.
In many cases, she was getting treated by in-network hospitals, but by medical providers who, she later learned, were out of network. This led to tons of surprise bills; a phenomenon known as balance billing, which isn’t always legal in her home state.
“I called each and every medical provider, in some cases threatening to report them to the attorney general,” she recalled. “Some bills were forgiven more easily than others; some took years to resolve, but nothing was ever sent to collections.”
All in all, Robin has wiped out about $20,000 of her medical debt by directly challenging providers.
For more information on the issues surrounding medical debt, please contact RIP Medical Debt.