How one Tennessee county is working to keep medical debt lawsuits out of court

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Hamilton County, Tenn., established an online dispute resolution system to help residents with medical debt rectify their case before it ends up in court, according to a May 18 news release.

People who have outstanding medical bills from Chattanooga-based Erlanger Baroness Hospital can now register on Tennessee's medical debt website and send a message to the hospital concerning their debt. An Erlanger representative will respond with potential repayment strategies, such as adjusted pricing and payments plans.

Hamilton County residents with medical debt can also request the assistance of a Rule 31-trained mediator to help work out a settlement. 

"This is a program that is designed to give you and the healthcare provider an opportunity to discuss, negotiate and possibly agree on some deal to resolve a medical bill," Hamilton County Judge Alex McVeagh said. "And best of all it’s completely free, voluntary, and confidential."

The county hopes the pilot of its online medical debt resolution system goes well enough for the system to be adopted by other parts of the state.

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