Collector - October 2020 - 7

INDUSTRYNEWS

HEALTH CARE

Helping Consumers and Clients Navigate
Medical Debt Collections

I

n July, the U.S. Department of Health
and Human Services Office of Inspector
General (OIG) issued an advisory
opinion to RIP Medical Debt, a nonprofit
organization that uses donations to buy and
forgive medical debt, allowing it to "purchase
or receive a donation of, inpatient and
outpatient debt directly from hospitals and
certain other providers, instead of buying the
debt from debt purchasing companies."
Under the agreement, the organization
would continue to forgive that medical debt.
The OIG also notes the medical debt would
be from an account a health care provider or
its partner collection agency was ultimately
unable to collect.
"This medical debt could have been
incurred by patients who, when they
received services, were uninsured and could
include cost-sharing or other amounts
owed by patients who had private or public
insurance, including federal health care
programs," the opinion states.
The process for RIP Medical Debt to
forgive consumers' accounts doesn't appear to
have changed, according to the arrangement
spelled out in the OIG's opinion.
In the accounts receivable management
(ARM) industry, especially since the onset of
the COVID-19 pandemic, collection agencies
and ACA International members have
stepped up their efforts to help consumers
and clients through these trying times.
ACA members are doing their part
every day to work with consumers and are
continuing to experience unprecedented
amounts of inbound calls and positive
feedback. Members also have best practices in
place to contact consumers to set up flexible
payment plans, provide access to emergency
hardship programs and offer qualified
discounts. These efforts are critical to helping
consumers and creditors bridge the gap and
accelerate our nation's economic recovery.

COLLECTOR 10.20

Given the advisory opinion issued for
RIP Medical Debt, it is important to note
these hardship programs to help consumers
resolve their accounts and work with health
care provider clients on solutions have an
established presence in the ARM industry.
ACA has also focused its advocacy efforts
to share information about these programs
with Congress in response to several
proposed bills drafted to provide economic
relief during the COVID-19 pandemic
and beyond.
"Consumers should not have to
fall for gimmicks to resolve their
obligations," said Irwin Bernstein, CEO
and president of Allgate Financial LLC
in Chicago. "We recognize that the
collection of obligations is critical to
maintain the availability of service and
control costs at medical centers. However,
members of ACA International have
programs that recognize consumers fall on
hard times and may not have the ability to
pay their bills. Especially for medical debt,

members have very generous charity care
and write-off provisions."
Medical debt is one of the top forms
of debt the ARM industry can help consumers
and clients resolve, according to the 2020
State of the Industry Report done by Kaulkin
Ginsberg and ACA.
In fact, based on data from 2018,
the most up-to-date publicly available
information, the total net debt returned to
creditors amounted to nearly $90.1 billion.
The total debt returned represents roughly
$706 in savings per household.
"When faced with a bill, consumers
should open a line of communication
with the collection agency," Bernstein
said. "They will find ACA members are
ready and able to work with them to find a
mutually satisfactory result including, when
appropriate, a significant write down or
forgiveness of the debt."
Members may read more in the 2020
State of the Industry Report here: www.
acainternational.org/kaulkin-ginsberg.

7


https://www.bit.ly/2Pw70om https://www.bit.ly/2Pw70om https://www.acainternational.org/kaulkin-ginsberg https://www.acainternational.org/kaulkin-ginsberg

Collector - October 2020

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