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Milwaukee, WI Bankruptcy Law Blog

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Surprise Medical Bills Are Common In Wisconsin

WDJT recently did a story on the large number of people in Wisconsin who get surprise bills in the mail after undergoing what they have previously been told are medical procedures covered by insurance. The newscast highlighted the story of Anne Rogalski.

Just over a year ago, Anne Rogalski went to her doctor for a routine check-up.

“They thought they felt something in my gut area,” say Rogalski. “So he (her doctor) suggested we do a colonoscopy and make sure it’s nothing.”

A simple enough procedure Rogalski was confident would be covered by her insurance. Leaning on the side of caution however, she made a couple calls into the surgery center week prior to the procedure.

“I talked to the girl who handles the insurance and asked if she would make sure everything is covered,” explains Rogalski. “She said no problem.”

The procedure took place on March 3, 2016. A few weeks later a bill arrives in the mail seeking more than $1,400 in payment.

“They (her insurance) paid for doctors time, they paid for facility charge, but they didn’t pay of the anesthesiology,” says Rogalski.

Rogalski tried to negotiate with the provider, and even reported them to the Better Business Bureau, but they wouldn’t budge. Fortunately, Anne and her husband were able to come up with the money needed to pay the surprising bill. But they found the whole scenario quite upsetting.

Other patients are not so lucky. A lot of people in our state are forced to file for bankruptcy because of medical bills.

Unlike many other types of debt, medical debt is not attached to any sort of collateral. The hospital can’t come and repossess a patient’s good health because it cost more than the patient could pay back. This makes medical debt a big driver of bankruptcy because the medical provider has no way to get paid except to keep pestering the patient. Most patients don’t appreciate being hounded by bill collectors when they are trying to focus on getting well.

Medical debt can be completely forgiven if a debtor choses to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. If a debtor would instead like to pay off as much of the debt as possible, Chapter 13, which involves a repayment period, may be a better option.

Although the medical provider Anne Rogalski was dealing with was unwilling to budge, some medical providers are willing to negotiate if they fear that the patient is about to file for bankruptcy and leave them with pennies on the dollar. It may be worth it to have an experienced bankruptcy attorney attempt to negotiate a lower payment or balance if bills are piling up and bankruptcy is looming.


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933 North Mayfair Road, Suite 107, Milwaukee, WI 53226
| Phone: 414-436-8428