What You Need to Know about the Latest Updates to Medical Collection Laws

Medical collection laws are an important aspect of the healthcare industry that can have far-reaching implications for healthcare providers seeking to collect debts owed by patients to administer care to. Keeping abreast of the latest updates to these laws is essential for ensuring compliance and maintaining trust in the system. In this article, we will explore the key changes and amendments to medical collection laws, highlighting what healthcare professionals need to know to navigate this complex regulatory landscape effectively. 

From understanding new consumer protection measures to staying informed about medical debt collection practices, staying up-to-date on these developments is paramount for anyone involved in the collection of payments within the healthcare industry. We aim to provide as much information as possible regarding the intricacies of these updated laws and their potential impact on your practice.

Overview of the Latest Updates in Medical Collection Laws

As already mentioned, recent updates to medical collection laws have brought significant changes affecting healthcare providers. These updates include stricter regulations on debt collection practices, more consumer protections, and increased transparency requirements for medical billing. Healthcare organizations must now adhere to new guidelines to ensure compliance with the latest legal mandates regarding medical debt collections.

Here are the updates you need to know: 

  1. Balances under $500 are no longer reflected in credit reports. 

Nationwide credit reporting companies – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – have removed all paid medical debts from consumer credit reports and those less than a year old. In addition, as of April 2023, they have taken steps to remove all medical collections under $500. With this change, it is estimated that roughly half of those with medical debt on their reports will have it removed from their credit history under the Fair Credit Reporting Act

  1. The minimum delinquency period is now 365 days from the day of delinquency. 

As was the standard, once consumers were delinquent on payments after 30 days, healthcare providers could begin the process of involving a debt collection agency. That is no longer the minimum delinquency period. After 365 days of medical bill delinquency, which would then be reflected on the consumer’s credit report, medical billing departments would then proceed with having collection agencies seek out past due medical bills. 

  1. Regulation F will affect communication practices of debt collection agencies.

Regulation F, is a rule of the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA), which is enforced by The Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (CFPB) and significantly impacts the overall debt collection process. Failing to comply can lead to large fines or legal trouble. Here are just a few of the stipulations that are part of this new law. 

The 7-in-7 rule: Reg F stipulates that there may be no more than seven (7) calls made by a debt collector to a consumer in a span of seven (7) days.

Time of Day: Debt collectors may not attempt to contact a consumer before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. in the consumer’s local time zone. Some states have their own time restrictions that supersede Reg F.

Place of Employment: Debt collectors may not attempt to contact a consumer at the consumer’s place of employment. 

  1. States such as New York and Colorado have restricted the use of credit reporting. While these states have passed legislation to bar medical bills from appearing on consumer reports, several other states are currently considering following suit. 

Compliance Requirements for Medical Collection Agencies

Medical collection agencies also have well-established requirements that have not changed, which include the following: 

  • Licensing: Medical collection agencies must ensure they are properly licensed to operate in the states where they conduct business. Failure to comply with licensing requirements can result in hefty fines or even the suspension of operations.
  • HIPAA Compliance: It is essential for medical collection agencies to adhere to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations when handling patients’ sensitive health information. Any breaches of patient confidentiality can lead to serious legal consequences.
  • Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA): Medical collection agencies must also follow the guidelines set forth by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) when communicating with debtors. This includes restrictions on contacting debtors at certain times, using deceptive practices, or harassing individuals. Failure to comply with FDCPA regulations can result in lawsuits and penalties.

Implications for Healthcare Providers

So what does all this mean for healthcare providers? Well, here are a few things that we recommend aside from keeping in communication with your debt collection agency. 

  1. Stay Informed: It’s crucial for healthcare providers to stay informed about the latest updates to medical collection agency laws in order to comply with regulations and avoid potential legal issues.
  2. Review Policies: Take the time to review your billing and collections policies to ensure they align with the updated laws. Make any necessary adjustments promptly.
  3. Train Staff: Educate your staff on these changes so they understand their responsibilities when it comes to patient billing and collections. This will help prevent mistakes that could lead to non-compliance.
  4. Protect Patient Privacy: Ensure that patient information is handled securely during the collection process, as violating privacy laws can result in severe penalties for healthcare providers.

By proactively addressing these implications, healthcare providers can navigate the evolving landscape of medical collection laws effectively while maintaining trust with patients and compliance with regulatory requirements.

Resources for Staying Informed and Adapting to Regulatory Changes

To stay informed about the latest updates to laws pertaining to medical collection, it is essential to utilize reputable resources. One such resource is the ACA International, which is an industry publication that can help you stay up-to-date on regulatory changes affecting medical collections.

Another valuable resource for adapting to regulatory changes is attending conferences and webinars hosted by organizations like NARCA. These events often feature expert speakers who provide insights into the latest legal trends and strategies for compliance with medical collection laws. By actively participating in these educational opportunities, you can ensure that your organization remains compliant with evolving regulations and best practices in the healthcare collections space.

Hire FFCC for Your Medical Collection Agency Needs 

Debts can be a nuisance for any medical practice. That’s why hiring a medical collection agency that keeps up with the latest laws and amendments is the best course of action for medical practitioners seeking debts owed. 

FFCC is proud to serve our customers that need assistance collecting past-due balances and debt from their customers. We have a proven track record of success, and our team of experts knows how to get the job done.

Contact us today to see how we can help your organization.
First Federal Credit Control
25700 Science Park Dr #370
Beachwood, OH 44122
(216) 360-2000

The FFCC Team

The FFCC Team

For more than 50 years, FFCC has led the industry, surpassing the competition’s success rate. As a unique debt collection agency, our team of flexible, talented, and professional debt recovery specialists strives to deliver quality service to every client.