Your ARMor

The UCS Newsletter, providing A/R management and debt collection insights, with the commitment of maintaining the important balance between

Results and Relationships
 vol. 6 issue 2
 
      
 
 

United Credit Service, Inc.  Winner 2 Years Running
 
 
 
 
Table of Contents

Plan Your Work & Work Your Plan: Great Life Skill or Waste of Time?

Little-Known Filial Laws Can Force Families to Fund Father's Care

Going Paperless? Creditor Beware

Social Media Fun Facts
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Gratitude
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
"I've worked with United Credit Service, Inc. for over 25 years and have found their staff to be very professional and knowledgeable. UCS has provided our patients and our staff with outstanding customer service while also providing excellent collection results."
-- Director of Patient Financial Services, Large Midwestern Hospital

Hello-
I would like to say BIG THANK YOU to one of your associates - Krys for going above and beyond helping the customer.  I greatly appreciate everything that Krys has done for me to eliminate my debt in a timely manner.
Thank you, 
        --a consumer

Got the last check woot! It's like a dream hahahahaha. Thanks again Harry you guys Rock!!!! Cheers
              --a client
Kim,  
You have been great to work with on this unfortunate issue. 
Thank you so much for your kindness.  Please apply this check to reference# XX-XXXXXXXXX.
      Thanks so much,
               a consumer
 
 
 
 
Greetings!


Google will be twenty years old in September. Twenty years is quite the milestone, or is it? Even though it’s hard to remember a world without the popular search engine—maybe even impossible for some of you. In the big scheme of things twenty years is just a drop in the bucket.


According to their website, when Google was founded back in September 1998 it was serving ten thousand search inquiries per day. Now, on average, it processes over 40,000 searches per second which amounts to over 3.5 billion searches a day. That’s a lot of information rapidly changing hands.


You gotta love technology. At least that’s how we feel here at United Credit Service. We always have. Back in 1981 with owner Ed Cox (my partner Jim Cox’s dad) at the helm, UCS initiated the development and programming of an in-house computerized, paperless collection system. It was the first of its kind in the state of Wisconsin. Utilizing cutting-edge technology is just one of tools we use to ensure compliance while providing clients and consumers the most effective and efficient service possible. But it’s a powerful one.


We also engage in social media as a way to connect with people and distribute information. With over 68 years of experience in debt collection and accounts receivable management we’ve seen a lot of changes to our industry including laws governing it and have accumulated quite a bit of knowledge on what works and what doesn’t. Since we want to share our expertise with the public we write and post a weekly blog as a way to help others searching for answers.


The subject matter of our blogs varies; sometimes they are written to speak to clients or perspective clients, other times we address issues faced by businesses wanting to handle debt collection on their own. We’ve also written on topics meant to educate consumers and still others that are human interest stories we’ve enjoyed or found interesting. I’ve even written a few myself relating to successes or failures I’ve experienced firsthand in business management.


Our staff works hard looking for and writing on subject matter they think our followers will find either helpful or interesting. I’m happy to report their hard work is paying off. The UCS blog has gained a fair amount of traction over the past five years and this year we’ve already broken our previous record for the number of people or businesses who’ve signed up to follow our blog.


The following articles are actually two of our most popular blogs to date, followed by a future blog written to provide 'food for thought' when utilizing e-signatures for admission or financial agreements. I hope you find them to be interesting or helpful, perhaps both.


If any of you have a thought about a topic you would be interested in reading about, please drop us a line here. We’d love your input. 


Best regards,


 
 
 
 
 
 

Plan Your Work & Work Your Plan: Great Life Skill or Waste of Time?
 
 
We’ve all heard this saying, right?  The origins of the saying are unknown but it has certainly been used by many.  Both Vince Lombardi and Margaret Thatcher had been known to utilize it. Victor Hugo, author of both Les Miserables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame had a similar quote,“He who every morning plans the transaction of the day and follows out that plan, carries a thread that will guide him through the maze of the most busy life.  But where no plan is laid, where the disposal of time is surrendered merely to the chance of incidence, chaos will soon reign.”

The phrase has been documented as being used in church sermons dating back to the 1880s and there is a bible verse that touches on the topic; Proverbs 21:5 New Living Translation, “Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty.”

Michigan State University has created a document for those that have or are in the process of obtaining their PhD.  What’s the Title? Yep you guessed it, “Plan Your Work & Work Your Plan, Essential Career Competencies for PhDs.”

I entered the phrase in a search engine and found the variety of ways in which it was utilized to be pretty amazing; the Lombardi and Hugo quotes are there, but how about the PTA, PGA, life coaches, physical fitness, financial planning, career advice, running a business, and leadership.  One blog posting referred to the phrase as an “irrefutable law of success.”

Sounds like a life skill we could all use, yet many of us don’t. In fact, there has been much said and written about the death of the business plan.  As I read through many of the articles against a plan, I am struck by one thing.  The majority of the articles against business plans are referring to start-ups.  I read and or skimmed around 30 articles as I was researching this topic and I did not find one article that said an established business would not benefit from a plan.

I have had the opportunity during my career to work for several Fortune 100 companies as well as startups and small businesses.  My experience with “Plan your work & work your plan” has ranged from planning to paralysis to we don’t need no stinking plan.
Fortunately, there have been plenty of times when the common sense middle ground ruled the day.  During the times when all we seemed to do was research and plan it was the result of a lack of leadership—the inability to make a decision or take that next step.  Interestingly, when I have encountered the we don’t need a plan approach leadership—actually the lack thereof— was also the culprit.


Let’s face it, even as simple as the phrase “Plan your work and work your plan” is in reality it actually takes some effort to get done.  You’ll hear excuses like, “We can get to market faster without a business plan holding us back” or “We like to be nimble and react to the market” and “We’re too small to need a plan” and a litany of other excuses. But, no matter the justification what I hear is, “I just don’t want to take the time and energy to create a plan.”

A common misconception is that a business plan has to be a long, flashy, detailed plan.  This is certainly true if you are going to be sharing the plan with someone outside your organization—especially if you are going to use the plan to secure financing.  There are a multitude of resources available including books on how to write a plan, companies that will be glad to do it for you and consultants that will tell you what they think you should do.  But for the majority of us the plan can be stated in simple terms without all the pomp and circumstance.

So whether it is a plan for your business, financial security, physical well-being, or pretty much any other aspect of your life, let’s get planning.

My next blog will discuss some thoughts on what to include in your plan and how to go about writing one.  In the meantime, why not plan out your day for tomorrow and see what happens.  You may be surprised.

            ------------------------------------------------------------------------

If you'd like to read the actual blog post or follow our blog click here.

 
 
 
 
 
Little-Known Filial Laws Can Force Families to Fund Father's Care
 
 
 
This is part II in a two part series about whether adult children can be held responsible for their parents’ debt. Last week we looked at the Social Security administration and how—this year alone—they intercepted the state and federal tax refunds for about 400,000 Americans who had relatives who owed them money. In numerous cases the debts came as a complete surprise to those held responsible and were dated as far back as the mid-twentieth century. Read last week’s blog here.

This week we are going to focus on filial responsibility laws and how these little-known laws are being used to collect debt.

In 2007, Elnora Thomas of Tampa, Fla., received a disturbing letter. She was being sued by her mother’s nursing home in Philadelphia for almost $50,000 in unpaid bills. She and her sister Peggy Crowder, who also received a letter, were trapped by Pennsylvania’s filial responsibility laws. She told them she didn’t have any money to pay. They told her they would put a lien on her house to get their money.

Most of us are not familiar with these laws—or have even heard about them for that matter—yet, here in the United States the statutes have been on the books since the very beginning when the colonists came to America. These laws originated from England’s Elizabethan Poor Relief Act of 1601 which required “the father and grandfather and mother and grandmother and the children of every poor, blind, lame, and impotent person” to support their impoverished relatives to the best of their ability.

I think it’s safe to say that everyone knows parents not only have the moral obligation to financially support their dependent children, they are also legally required to do so. Well, in more than half the states (30) the opposite is true too. These states with filial responsibility laws on the books can make adult children legally financially responsible for their elderly parents—if the parents don’t have sufficient income to take care of themselves.
Historically, filial responsibility laws rarely had been enforced and in some states not at all. But, the Federal Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 made it more difficult to qualify for Medicaid long-term care coverage and some elder law attorneys predicted nursing homes would start utilizing those laws as a way to get paid. They were right!

Sometimes the law is used successfully as a way to get financial support from adult children who “overreach” by helping themselves to their parents accounts or those who get their parents to transfer assets over to them. This was the case concerning Earl and Ruth Linderkamp of North Dakota. Both of the Linderkamps entered Four Season’s nursing home in October of 2006. Ruth died in December of 2008 and Earl in September 2010. After their deaths, the nursing home sued the Linderkamp’s son, Elden, to set aside a land transfer as a fraudulent conveyance and to recover the unpaid debt for care provided to his parents by the nursing home.

In the end, The North Dakota Supreme Court found Elden personally liable for his parents’ $104,000 debt for unpaid nursing home care.

According to Penn State law professor, Katherine Pearson, the problem with the filial responsibility laws is they are not limited to “bad” kids who “overreach.” Just ask Andrea August of Norristown, Pennsylvania. She was sued for more than $300,000 in unpaid nursing home debt by her parents’ nursing home. August said she never had power of attorney over her parents’ assets and thought the nursing home and the guardian appointed to look after her parents had worked out how the bills would be paid. Both She and her husband work two jobs in order to make ends meet for themselves and their two children. As much as they would have loved to help—paying her parents bills was just not possible.

John Kennedy, a Harrisburg, PA., attorney who has represented nursing homes in hundreds of these cases, said the Federal Deficit Reduction Act made it harder to get Medicaid. He uses the filial responsibility laws to “persuade” adult children to do the paperwork necessary to establish Medicaid eligibility.

Again, not the case with Andrea August. Her lawyer, Linda Berman, said her client had already helped fill out all forms for her parents.

At the end of the day, August considers herself lucky. One her husband’s employers had a legal coverage plan that enabled the couple to hire a lawyer—they never could have afforded to otherwise. Though Berman contested the nursing home’s claim, August and the nursing home reached a settlement that freed August of her parents’ debt, partly because the law states adult children can only be held liable if they have the means to pay—which August clearly did not.

In the case of the Tampa Florida woman, Elnora Thomas, she got help from Pam Walz, director of the Elderly Law Project at Community Legal Services of Philadelphia who filed several appeals with Medicaid on Thomas’ mother’s behalf. In the end, Medicaid did come through or Thomas would still most likely have the threat of a lien on her house today.
Here is a list of states that currently have filial responsibility laws: Alaska, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia.


If you'd like to read actual blog click here

 
 
 
 

Going Paperless? Creditor Beware


 
 
 

We are all living in an electronic world and it is becoming a common practice of many hospitals, medical providers and other creditors to ask patients and customers to sign agreements electronically instead of signing on paper.


That’s all well and good. Electronic signatures are not the issue. But problems can arise if you don’t offer the signer a copy of the document.


It is a basic rule of contract law that a valid contract requires a “meeting of the minds.” This can only happen when both parties understand and agree to the terms of the contract (btw, admission agreements and financial agreements are both types of contracts).

Of course, a patient or customer may choose not to read the document before signing it, but that, in of itself, will not relieve them of their obligations under the contract. However, if you want to be able to enforce the agreement, you must be able to offer proof that the patient was offered a copy of the entire document or at least afforded the opportunity to review it (such as having a laminated copy on the desk). Please note: It is not enough to say that the document could have been made available had they asked.


The problem of not offering a copy of the document could be compounded by referring to some provisions of the agreement while leaving out others. Unfortunately, this is becoming a fairly common practice. I actually know people who’ve gone to doctors and hospitals that when asked to sign a ‘consent to treat’ agreement were told to just sign a blank screen that was giving them, the medical provider, consent to treat and bill insurance. No mention is made of other important terms, such as describing the patient’s financial responsibilities, payments terms, etc. Down the road, the patient could claim they thought those were the only provisions they were signing off on so they didn’t read the document (if it was available).


If you want to use e-signatures for agreements here are our recommendations:


  1. Always have a complete copy of document available for inspection by patient or customer.
  2. Inform patient or customer that the document is available without being asked for it.
  3. Invite the patient or customer to read the document and ask questions about any terms he/she finds unclear.
  4. When asked or when stating the purpose of the document, do not attempt to summarize by mentioning only a couple of the terms.
  5. When the document relates to hospital or medical services and the patient seems reluctant to sign or wishes to delete certain parts, do not state or imply that services will be withheld if not signed, unless that is your actual policy. When applied to consumer transactions, “take it or leave it” contracts for necessary goods and services, such as medical, are highly disfavored in law as “contracts of adhesion”.
  6. Document the above circumstances of each electronic signing as a regularly kept business record. This can be done either as a short narrative or a check-off form that is signed by the person acting on behalf of the creditor, such as an admission’s clerk.

There's no guarantee that following the above recommendations will prevent a challenge to the enforceablility of electronically signed agreements, but they will make if much more likely that the agreements will be upheld if challenged.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 Social Media Fun Facts

According to Brandwatch.com as of April, 2018 total world population was 7.6 billion
and...
The internet has 4.2. billion users
There are 3.03 billion active social media users
81 % of small and medium size businesses use some kind of social platform

 
 
 
 
United Credit Service, Inc.
www.unitedcreditservice.com
15 N. Lincoln Street, P.O. Box 740
Elkhorn, WI 53121
262.723.2902
 
 
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