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There is an epidemic going on in the field of health care that has lasting effects on all international visitors who were forced to seek medical attention while in the United States. Long after the traveler has left the facility where they received treatment and long after the traveler has settled back in their home country is when the symptoms appear. The epidemic is the harassing pursuit of payment by debt collectors for unsettled charges.
We have noted a surge in collection agencies becoming more aggressive in their efforts to obtain payment from international patients. Some U.S. hospitals are using debt collectors as billing agencies in order to contact patients in their home country.
The information an international traveler gives when registering to receive medical care in the United States may be the most important piece of information that they provide to the health care provider in avoiding future harassment by debt collectors.
When our clients request assistance with a policyholder, New Frontier Group immediately contacts the health care facility to record our billing address and phone number. This initial exchange of information is crucial to both provider and patient. The provider gains a level of assurance that the treatment is covered and the patient is not inconvenienced at a later time by a collector for unpaid medical costs.
If an international patient returns home and is contacted by a debt collector, our international partners should immediately contact New Frontier Group to intervene on their behalf. It is not uncommon for debt collectors to use hard-hitting and manipulative approaches designed to scare patients. These tactics are unacceptable and illegal. The United States Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) was created to eliminate abusive practices in the collection of consumer debts. The Act outlines standard under which debt collectors may conduct business and explains the rights of consumers.
The Act prohibits collectors from making false statements used to intimidate the consumer. So when collectors tell patients “If you do not pay us the fee, you will never be allowed back into the United States ever again.” or “The Cease and Desist letter does not apply to out of country consumers”, the collectors are violating the FDCPA.
In my book there is no room for this patient abuse and I have no tolerance for it. New Frontier Group has years of experience in handling the US and international collection agencies and we encourage all clients/patients to seek our advice and make use of our services.