Medical can be a rather difficult thing to understand. Patients should be smart enough in handling their finances to avoid applying for medical bills. The most obvious way is to look for health insurance alternatives that could cover all, if not much of our medical costs. Patients should be aware that medical expenses could be rather exorbitant. In many situations, it is possible for us to reduce medical costs by up to 70 percent if we have health insurance coverage. However, things related to health insurance could be something that hospitals and doctors are reluctant to explain. People with low incomes could be eligible to different programs, such as Medicaid. However, people who need to deal with large medical bills could also seek other financial assistances. To avoid medical debts, we should also choose the most suitable plans. There are different health insurance alternatives, such as HMO, PPO and Indemnity plans. We should make sure that our preferred physicians are included in the insurer’s network to further reduce medical costs.
It is important to avoid high deductible plans. When choosing plan, we should calculate the entire monthly premiums that include out of pocket expenses and co-payments. We should write down all costs, including how much doctor visit costs. When choosing insurance coverage, we need to check the lifetime maximum and some serious illness could be covered until up to $1 million or more. Another way to avoid medical debts is by choosing flexible savings account. In this case, employees can be reimbursed for dental and medical expenses on the pre-tax basis. In general, we should keep organized records and track our expenses. The best way to avoid medical debts is by avoid having an illness. We could stay healthy by performing regular exercises and consume healthy diet. To monitor our health, we should follow annual check-ups, so if we have potentially serious illness, it can be treated at an early stage to speed up recovery and reduce overall costs.
We should get personalized health reports that provide us with accurate overview of our health condition. There are programs that we could choose including smoking cessation sessions, fitness classes, weight loss support groups and other personal counselling tasks. In general, people who proactively maintain their health conditions are likely to be healthier and even if they suffer a sickness, it can be treated much more effectively at an early stage. We could also consume preventive medicine that’s often more affordable than medicines used after the illness becomes more serious. In general, we should be informed about our health insurance plan and it is always a good idea to read our insurance policy. In some cases, preventive programs and medicines are covered by the insurance, because they will prevent patients from suffering more serious illness. We should make sure that all of our claims will be processed by the insurance company and we could do this by discussing about all possible scenarios with the insurer’s representatives. Avoiding medical debts is easy if we know what to do.
There’s an old notion that a penny saved is a penny earned. Unfortunately, many of us have lost track of what it really means. We are now comfortable with the idea that we could pay later and buy now. The idea of financing has encouraged us to accumulate debt and this could start with many essential debts, such as student loans and mortgage. Many decades ago, we won’t see anyone purchasing a home with only ten percent down. Back then, people need to provide 50 percent down before they are approved for mortgage financing. Things have changed and it is far easier for people to apply for debts. It is actually good for consumers to be required to pay huge down payment before they are allowed to purchase a house. Today, people tend to finance more and more. Although we have less money, we can have more and more items. In fact, it is very easy for us to max out credit cards and choose more expensive cars based on specific payment methods.
We should be aware that the only one who gets rich off this situation is the bank. Nearly 20 percent of all expenditures are financed by credit cards issued by banks. Add in debit cards and retail cards, and the figure for all three rises to about 25 percent. It means that about a quarter of money we spend is processed by the bank. It’s an indeed bad situation for us and fortunately, we could actually avoid it with just a bit of self-control and planning. The problem is, many of us are lacking self-control and we should be aware of the problem that we have put ourselves in. Fortunately, there is some careful planning that we can do. As an example, we could use paper and pen to draw out our current financial situation. We should call the credit card company immediately if we don’t have a clue about the percentages. It is an important piece of details. We should write down everything that we are financing, that includes our house, cars, boats, dryer, washer and others.
Now, we should also write down any of our investments, such as IRA, 401k, saving accounts, property assets, stocks and others. If we have sizable amount of money invested anywhere, then it is good work. This should allow us to have a better outlook of our financial situation. However, while performing our plans, it is important for us to ask ourselves a few hard questions. As an example, w should look for the best way to eradicate our debts. We could start paying off debts with the highest interest rate. It means that if we have a couple of maxed out credit cards, one with 21 percent interest rate and another at 18 percent; then we should pay only minimum payments for the latter and allocate the rest of our money to pay off the former. Once we do this consistently, we should be able to pay off all our debts at the shortest time and the least amount of money.
There are different solutions we could choose to free ourselves from debts. These solutions could include credit counselling and debt settlement. With proper methods, we should be able to put our financial situation back on track. Unfortunately, scammers are always taking advantage of others’ desperation and scams related to debt settlement are one of them. It is essential to learn how we can spot scams related to debt settlement. In general, our financial situation is a really private matter and we should be able to hire trusted debt negotiation companies that can keep our secret. Many of these scammers are actually identity thefts who regularly seek new victims and further make things difficult for them financially. We should choose debt settlement companies that look after our interests. We should read all the details and if the company fails to provide us with clear information about their settlement process, then it is a strong sign that they need to be avoided.
There are signs that could indicate that we are dealing with scammers. As an example, we should avoid working with debt settlement companies that are still new in the field. In general, the company should be highly experienced, when it comes to debt management. We should only hire professionals that have been around for more than a while. The longer the company has operated in the market, the more legitimate it is. In order to get the best possible deals, we should have good relationships with both creditors and debt settlement professionals. We should be careful with debt settlement companies that offer automatic enrolment. A trustworthy debt settlement company should check our situation to make sure that we qualify. We should be aware that each debt settlement alternative plan can be different. In this case, we s choose only specific types of settlement plans that are appropriate for our situation. There are many variables that affect our situation and we should make sure that the option is appropriate for us. As an example, there could debt settlement companies that could provide only settlement for secured debts.
It could also mean that the company won’t be able to help us, if we want to settle our unsecured student debts. That’s the reason, we should be approved before we could be enrolled in the debt settlement program. Each time we see a company that instantly enrols us into their program, we should consider it as a scam. Other debt settlement companies that we need to avoid are those that aren’t accredited by local financial companies. These agencies are established to ensure fair practice in the debt settlement industry and we could make sure that consumers are protected. We shouldn’t also choose companies that have programs that last for too long. Three or four years are too long. In fact, creditors could already sue us before we complete the program, freeing debt settlement companies from their obligation. In this case, we will end up losing money and creditors could already seize our assets.
The FTC has ordered two debt sellers who posted the personal information of more than 70,000 consumers on a public website, to notify the consumers that their personal information has been compromised. In addition, the debt sellers must also tell consumers how they can protect their identities against fraud and theft for the future. Debt sellers, Brandon Lambert of Cornerstone and Company LLC in Riverside, California and Aron Tomko of Bayview Soluitons LLC in St. Petersburg, Florida are named as the defendants in the case.
The FTC alleges that the companies on two different occasions, posted the personal information of consumers on a public website. Information included consumer birthdates, contact information, employers’ names bank account and credit card numbers, birth dates, and specifics about consumer debts. The defendants allegedly placed consumer personal information in a debt collection portfolio for past-due credit cards, payday loans, and other debts. The portfolio was then posted on a publically viewable website in the form of an excel file. Even though the portfolio was posted on a website dedicated to other debt collection professionals, the files were not encrypted or protected in any way. As a result, anyone had access to the personal data, which was accessed over 500 times.
The FTC states that this lack of privacy is a violation of the FTC Act, which states that consumers have a right to privacy. Exposed consumers in the portfolio are now vulnerable to identity theft, and have also been branded as debtors to the public at large which could jeopardize their current employment or future employment opportunities. The FTC is requesting that the court make defendants halt the execution of this dangerous practice, and provide redress to consumers already affected. According to the FTC sellers are allowed to post portfolios but should hide personal identifiers that could expose consumer personal information. Debt collection schemes and mishaps happen every day that put consumers at risk. Legitimate debt collection agencies are often punished for the mistakes of others and are labelled “high risk.”