Help with medical debt and bills in Illinois
Illinois has two laws to help residents deal with medical as well as hospital debts and any unpaid bills. The assistance is available for any resident, no matter their income or health care condition. The two resources are as follows.
The Hospital Uninsured Patient Discount Act and The Fair Patient Billing Act are in effect to protect residents of the state. These two laws will help ensure that Illinois families and individuals, whether they are currently insured or uninsured, are protected from inaccurate or unfair hospital billing. There are also regulations in place that will regulate debt collection practices in an effort to protect the consumer.
In addition, the laws will limit the amount of hospital bills that can be charged for uninsured patients. So this will prevent the patient from falling too far into debt. Last, but not least, they set a limit interest on debt amounts that a patient can incur, including medical debt. More details include:
Medical providers and hospitals in Illinois need to provide patients with clear, timely, accurate, and accessible information about their costs. The provider needs to be up-front about the amount of the bills the patient will owe. They also need to tell the patient how to inquire about or dispute the medical or hospital bills.
If the unpaid medical debt is going to be sent to a collection agency, the patient first needs to be given the right to dispute that medical debt. While this occurs the process needs to stop until that occurs. In addition, they need to be provided with the option and ability to apply for financial assistance or charity care. They also must be offered a reasonable repayment plan for their financial condition.
Hospitals need to must post notices throughout the location and they need to publicize information the availability of any financial assistance that they offer in the registration areas or admission of the hospital. The Fair Patient Billing Act requires this posting to be easily discovered. Also hospitals need to publicize information on their financial assistance programs and programs they offer through brochures and on the patient bill s well.
The medical provider, doctor, or hospital boards must adopt fair billing and debt collection policies and practices. In addition, if they outsource the collections to an independent, external collection agency, they must ensure the medical debt collector also follows the policies. So the hospital is responsible from the point of admission for treatment up through and including collections. They can’t blame any issues on a third party.
As mentioned above, they need to offer charity care. This is a direct form of financial aid that is available to the resident. However, in addition to these charity care programs that are established, hospitals need to also discount what they charging to uninsured or low income patients who meet asset and income guidelines. This rule is part of the Hospital Uninsured Patient Discount Act. Also, find how to get free health care.
If someone is struggling with paying their debts, per Illinois law hospitals can collect only a maximum of 25 percent of a family or individuals household income in a year. This cap is in place for an uninsured or underinsured patient who is eligible for discounted health care.
There are caps on what how high the interest rate can be as well. Unless the debtor has come to terms with the creditor on a different interest rate (in writing), the interest that can be charged on all types of medical bills in Illinois is usually limited to 5 percent per year before judgment and 9 percent per year if the debtor has been taken to court and the courts places a judgment against the patient. The rate may also change based on state government approval.
Note that if the patient has insufficient income and assets., no legal action may be taken against that uninsured or underinsured patient for uncollected hospital debt or bills. So this prevents frivolous lawsuits in the state and it one of the main protections for consumers.