Outdated hospital billing practices present a challenge in complying with new debt collection rules


Outdated billing practices, especially in hospitals and doctor’s offices, are causing challenges for debt collection companies as they revamp their consumer communication practices as required by law, Bloomberg Law reported October 19.

Under a new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau law that goes into effect Nov. 30, debt collectors are required to provide people with a clear description of what debt is owed and to whom they owe it, along with a notice of debt. validation of the debt. Debt collectors rely on their clients, such as hospitals and medical providers, to provide this information.

According to the report, it will likely be more difficult for debt collectors who work with hospitals and doctor’s offices to comply with the centerpiece of the disclosure rule: the validation notice.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has provided a template validation notice to debt collectors that, if followed, protects collection agencies from lawsuits or other enforcement actions that allege disclosures or debt collection. inappropriate. However, this model validation notice does not take into account how doctors’ offices and hospitals bill.

“There is just a lot of heartburn surrounding medicine, because unfortunately the form does not address the nuances” of how medical bills are paid, said Joann Needleman, head of the financial services practice. consumers of Clark Hill PLC. Bloomberg Law.

In particular, doctor visits and hospital stays may be billed per procedure, meaning that patients may receive multiple bills for the same visit. There are also insurance delays that can complicate medical billing and make it difficult to use the pattern validation notice provided by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. There is also no place on the model form where a collector can include the person financially responsible for a minor or a deceased person, according to the report.

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