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Digging Out of Medical Debt

Buried in Medical Bills
Buried in Medical Bills
Bing Photo

A lifetime exclusion rider for kidney stones left Larry Rudduck buried in over $30,000 of medical debt while he was also unemployed. Faced with this debt, there seemed to be no way out except to spend years paying minimum payments to multiple medical care providers.

A medical billing advocate, hired by Larry to review the bills and see if any reductions were available, was able to save Larry over $25,000, reducing the amount he owed to under $5000. Something he could manage out of his savings, while he continued looking for employment. And, eliminating the thought of more drastic measures, such as filing for bankruptcy.

One simple request by the billing advocate, after reviewing Larry's financial status, was that he immediately apply to the hospital for the Colorado charity care program, CICP. Rudduck applied at Boulder Community Hospital and was approved. In addition, the 90 day look back period under the CICP program meant he was entitled to a a refund of the $1000 that he had already paid to Longmont Hospital. Applying for this program alleviated over $20,000 of medical debt. Without the timely suggestion of Holly Knapp, a medical billing advocate from Loveland, Larry Rudduck would have been unaware of his option to apply for the program, and of the immediate need to apply right away, because of time deadlines.

Knapp then went to work on other outstanding medical bills, where she was able to negotiate significant reductions, from 25-75% for Rudduck.

Medical Billing Advocates of America, of which Knapp is a member, is a national organization that promotes fair medical billing practices, and reviews medical bills for errors and duplications. It's estimated that at least 3% of all health care spending - about $68 billion - is lost to fraud and billing errors annually.

New reform laws may worsen the situation, because hospital will be under more pressure to make money as their revenues will be lower from major payers, specifically, Medicare and Medicaid.

Christie Hudson, vice president and chief operation officer of the medical billing trade group states "We've been fighting overcharges for years and insurance companies continue to pay without question".

Holly Knapp. Owner of Medical Billing Advocacy of the Rockies, who handled Rudduck's case, says "Working as an advocate is very rewarding. Many times, just by knowing the ins and outs of insurance companies and how claims are processed, I can get claims paid for individuals and get them out from under a lot of debt." Knapp's background included working for 10 years with Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield.


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