In the News

Leavengood Again Selected by his Peers as one of the Best Lawyers in America

Ian Leavengood, Attorney at Law

LeavenLaw Managing Partner Ian R. Leavengood has been selected by his peers for the third consecutive year for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America©. Mr. Leavengood will appear in the 23rd Edition of The Best Lawyers in America© in Commercial Litigation. "It is an honor to again be selected to this prestigious group for a third straight year," said Leavengood. "It is really a tribute to my team and all the excellent consumer advocacy work that we collectively do that makes recognition like this possible."

In addition to helping small business owners in Commercial Litigation, the staff at LeavenLaw helps consumers with problems associated with debt and credit, through the firm's consumer credit and bankruptcy divisions.  

Peer Reviewed

Best Lawyers in America

Inclusion in Best Lawyers in America© is based entirely on peer-review. The methodology is designed to capture, as accurately as possible, the consensus opinion of leading lawyers about the professional abilities of their colleagues within the same geographical area and legal practice area. Best Lawyers© employs a sophisticated, conscientious, rational, and transparent survey process designed to elicit meaningful and substantive evaluations of the quality of legal services.

Leavengood has also been named a Super Lawyer five times (twice as a Super Lawyer Rising Star), a member of Florida Trend magazine’s Florida Legal Elite, and has received an AV Rating from Martindale-Hubbell®. 

 

 

 

 

Medical Debt and Balance Billing: What to Watch For

 

By Aaron M. Swift, Esq.

Medical Debt Collection Defense

According to Consumer Union, the policy and advocacy division of Consumer Reports, 1 in 3 consumers received medical bills substantially higher than expected in 2014.  Often, these higher-than-expected medical bills result from “balance billing.”  

What is balance billing?

When a medical provider agrees to be within an insurance network, the insurance network and provider negotiate fees for certain services in advance.  Once a consumer receives said medical services, the provider bills the insurance company for the negotiated fee, and then the consumer is responsible for the co-pay and deductible, if applicable.  Medical providers outside of network, however, can bill the consumer for the “full” amount of service, above and beyond the lower negotiated in-network rates.  In that case, the out-of-network provider bills the insurance company and then “balance” bills the remainder to the consumer.  This issue is especially common when a treating physician—for example an anesthesiologist or radiologist—is out-of-network but provides services within an in-network hospital.  Emergency medical services also often result in balance billing as the consumer has less time and ability to determine if a physician or hospital is in network after or during an emergency. 

What can I do to avoid balance billing?

Florida offers certain protections against balance billing; for example, under state law, out-of-network medical providers cannot balance bill HMO members for emergency services.  Consumers with a PPO or other insurance plans, on the other hand, do not have the same protection.  To avoid balance billing, check with any hospital or medical service provider, as well as your insurance, to confirm that they are in your network.  Make sure to ask about everyone involved in the care, including specialists such as anesthesiologists.

What should I do if I am balance billed?

First, do not pay the bill right away.  Make sure your insurance provider paid their portion of all bills, even to out-of-network providers.  Be careful not to wait too long, however, as medical debts may be reported to your credit reports after 6 months, so you will want to avoid negative reporting and collections.  Second, please contact a consumer lawyer at LeavenLaw, as we may be able to help settle the debt or identify unlawful balance billing.  If the provider engaged in unlawful balance billing, you may be entitled to damages, and if we prevail in an unlawful balance billing lawsuit, the medical provider or debt collector may have to pay our attorneys’ fees and costs.  You pay nothing unless we prevail.  For more information, please visit www.LeavenLaw.com or call (727) 327-3328 for your free consultation.