How to Handle Medical Bills Debt

I have high medical bills and more to come. What are my options?

I have medical bills I cannot repay, and need an expensive procedure I know I can't afford. I don't know what to do. What are my options?

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Bill's Answer
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Medical bills are a big problem for many households. According to a 2013 study, medical debt is the No. 1 cause of bankruptcy. You might avoid a staggering medical bill if you qualify for a government, private, or hospital assistance programs. Make sure you understand your bill, and enlist the help of an advocate if you think a medical bill is incorrect. Learn your options if you cannot afford to pay your medical bills.

I’ll start with how you can avoid a large medical bill, and what to do if you are surprised by a large medical bill. Let’s look at what you can do to find payment help before you have a procedure.

The best time to deal with a large medical bill is before you receive the service. If the procedure is not an emergency, then take these three steps before you sign any contract with the doctor’s office, clinic, or hospital:

  1. If you have insurance, either call your insurance customer service people to learn if your procedure is covered, or ask your provider to obtain pre-approval. You may need to change doctors, or ask your doctor to perform the procedure at a different location to obtain the highest amount of coverage from your health insurance provider. Many hospitals will not perform a non-emergency procedure without determining how you will pay for it.
  2. If you do not have health insurance, learn if you qualify for Medicaid, Medicare or a private charity’s grant to pay for your procedure. In some areas, United Way’s 2-1-1 hotline can help you learn more about private medical payment assistance programs for in your area.
  3. Most hospitals provide patient financial assistance and charity programs to people with low or no income. Be prepared to share details about your household income when you apply for a patient financial assistance or charity program.

Patient Financial Assistance

Patient assistance programs vary, and each hospital calls their programs by a slightly different name. Generally, hospitals offer two types of assistance programs: Charity (no cost to you) and discount programs. Patient financial assistance and charity care programs are designed to be applied for before you receive the treatment, but there are no prohibitions to apply for them after you receive your first medical bill.

Medicaid and Medicare Eligibility

To be eligible for , you must be more than 65 years of age, meet income guidelines or have certain disabilities. Children and pregnant women may also be eligible for benefits. Contact your state Health Dept. about eligibility requirements for Medicaid and Medicare.

Charity programs vary, but often apply if you are uninsured and receive emergency treatment. Qualifications are based on a comparison of your financial resources and income to federal poverty guidelines. For non-elective care, you qualify and receive free care if your household financial resources or income is at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level.

Discount programs, which are sometimes called financial assistance programs, apply if you are uninsured and do not qualify for Medicaid, charity care or other assistance programs. Your household financial resources and/or income may be greater than 200 percent of the federal poverty level.

Poverty Guidelines

The vary each year, where you live, and how many people are in your household. For most states, the 2013 poverty guideline for a one-person household is $11,490. Add $4,020 for each person in your household to learn if you are above or below the poverty guideline.

To qualify for charity or financial assistance programs, you will be asked to complete a form and include either your most recent federal income tax return (for example, a 1040, 1040A, or 1040EZ), or other documents listed in the hospital or clinic’s application form, such as your state tax return and pay stubs that verify your income.

Understand and Review Your Medical Bill For Errors

It’s no secret medical bills are among the most complicated and confusing most of us will see. The American Academy of Family Physicians published a . If it appears your medical bill contains an error, discuss the charges with the service provider. Alternatively, consider hiring a consumer advocate such as , or or . These three services work on a contingency basis, which means they cost you nothing if they cannot save money on your medical bill.

Negotiate a Settlement If You Cannot Afford to Pay Your Medical Debt

If you exhausted all the options mentioned above, you have four options:

Apply for Aid

Help may also be available though church, civic, social, and fraternal groups in your community, as well as Salvation Army, Catholic Social Services, United Way, Jewish Social Services, and others that can be found in the yellow pages. Your situation may seem dire, but you are not alone in facing these hurdles, so reach out these and other reputable organizations.

Negotiate a Settlement With the Service Provider

A settlement is where you and the provider talk about what you can afford to pay, and what the provider is willing to accept as payment. See the Bills.com to learn the six rules to negotiate with a medical provider.

From a legal perspective, a medical debt is just like other unsecured consumer debts, such as credit card debt or payday loans. From a negotiating perspective though, medical debt is more complicated than credit card debt because a medical bill is usually includes services provided by several doctors, labs, and other providers. It is rare for all parties to accept less than the full amount due. If you make no headway by negotiating on your own, then you may wish to hire a provider to develop a you can afford.

Help for medical debt

Talk to a to learn your options to resolving your medical debt.

Consolidation Loan

There are two types of consolidation loans. The one that best suits your situation depends on whether you own a home and if your credit score is high. One option is a to consolidate debt. A Bills.com partner will give you a no-cost .

If you do not own a home or other property to offer as collateral for a debt consolidation loan, consider an unsecured loan. An unsecured loan is one not tied to (or secured) by something you own. Your ability to qualify for either a credit card or a personal loan that will actually save you money depends on your and the amount of your existing debt. If your credit history is less than perfect, you may have difficulty finding a lender willing to extend you credit, and if you do find a loan, you should expect a high interest rate.

A possible loan source you may want to explore is a . or offer peer-to-peer loans. Both Web sites put private lenders in contact with private borrowers. A private lender may be more willing to lend you money than a traditional bank.

If your credit is not excellent, but is improving, and you’re looking for an unsecured loan, speak with one of the consultants at

File for Bankruptcy Protection

is a last resort for resolving medical debt. It is, unfortunately, an option many people are forced to choose, and according to a recent study the No. 1 cause of bankruptcy in the US. Bankruptcy is not a good option if your medical bills are due to a chronic illness where medical costs are likely to continue after you file for bankruptcy. US bankruptcy law sets a minimum amount of time between bankruptcy discharges. Therefore, bankruptcy is good choice when the medical debt is due to a rare calamity.

Medical debt sends many households’ finances into turmoil, and is the No. 1 cause of bankruptcy in the US. Learn if you qualify for assistance in paying your bill. Contact your local government and charitable groups to learn if you qualify for assistance. Review your bill and dispute any errors. Consider negotiating a settlement to your delinquent medical debt. Enlist the help of a pro if negotiating is not one of your skills.

I hope this information helps you Find. Learn & Save.

Best,

Bill

123 Comments

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  • 35x35
    Nov, 2011
    Stephani
    Hello. I am an Army Wife station in El Paso, Tx. I moved here Dec 2008 and, apparently, went to the ER Feb 17 2009. I just found out yesterday that this dr sent me to collections on a bill I never knew about. I have tricare and they pay for everything. After making a lot of phone calls, I find out he waited 2.5yrs before sending in a claim to my insurance company. The claim stated he sent it in July 2011 and August 2011. Tricare denied it as the "filing time limit" has passed. During this whole time, up until yesterday (11/9/2011), I did not receive a single bill, notification, or statement of any kind stating I had a bill due. My insurance company never contacted me stating a claim sent in was denied. Now I have NCO FIN contacting me about this bill. What can I do in this matter? Can the really send me to a collection agency without ever informing me of this bill and not ever giving me the option to attempt to pay it? Thank you for help, Bill!
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Nov, 2011
      Bill
      Read the following Bills.com resources make yourself a more informed consumer:

      It is patently unfair and unreasonable for a medical service provider to bill a patient for services long after the patient's medical insurance will accept the invoice. It shows the medical service provider is not in control of its finances, but I digress. It may also be contrary to the contract the service provider made when it agreed to accept the insurance.

      My advice? Validate the debt. A debt that cannot be validated need not be paid.

      0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Feb, 2012
      Julie
      If the provider was contracted with Tricare and they did not submit the claim within the filing limit, they CANNOT transfer the cost to you. They have to write it off. If they are NOT contracted with Tricare then they do not have to. Also, the provider would have to prove that they sent it to Tricare AND they must prove that Tricare received the claim.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Oct, 2011
    Matt
    In January of 2007 an out-of-network doctor performed the delivery of my son. Prior to labor we had an arrangement with our in-network doctor which would have our covered our expenses. At the last minute without a verbal or written the out-of-network doctor appears to deliver my son. After the insurance refused to pay the balance owed they sent us a bill in May of 2007. After several conversations I informed the physician's office that I was unable to pay the full amount, which mysteriously was in my wife's name instead of mine, the insurance policy holder, but they refused to negotiate on a reasonable payment plan due to the low balance (less than $1000.) Today, October 2011, I find out the bill has been turned over to collections after 4 years of us never receiving a statement from the doctor. I have not been contacted by the collection agency as of yet either by phone or by mail (I found out about the debt via a credit report I requested for my wife) and according to West Virginia state law (WV being both the state we live and the state where the procedure occurred) the statute of limitations for legal action in such a case is 5 years from the date of service. Should I, if contacted, go through the process of requesting validity and, if the validity is not sufficient, see if the SOL runs out? After one year of no bills I honestly thought the debt had been written off considering we applied for their charity program.
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Oct, 2011
      Bill
      You seem surprised someone other than your doctor performed the procedure. It is a shame you did not consult with a lawyer immediately regarding this issue because a doctor (or other person) who performs a procedure without the patient's consent is guilty of battery.

      By all means validate the debt.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Oct, 2011
    Diana
    Hello I have the same problem I own $2,518.60 to the hospital of Delaware on ultrasounds since last October and today I got a letter from a Law Office saying that they have the authorization to suit me and I don't know what to do.. I have 3 kind and unemployed I receive food stamps and tanfs (welfare). My husband was layoff for over 9 months he recently went back to work last week and the house utilities are a lot Plus rent I can't afford to pay and I have 30 days to respond to these letter I also have to say that I'm not a us citizen and it makes harder on me.. Pls any advice what would happen if I don't answer within 30 days?? I'm freaking out :(
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Sep, 2011
    Mark
    My 23 year old uninsured, soon to be employed, full-time-student nephew that lives in my basement because his mother has cancer and grandfather needs and operation has paid $100 per month for two years on his hospital bill and has $3000 to go. Whether or not there was an official payment plan, I do not know, but the have accepted his payment in all cases up until now. They have moved his account to a credit agency that is demanding full immediate payment of the remaining $3000 within one day or they will put it on his credit rating. The hospital has stated that they are not interested in negotiating another payment plan. My poor nephew is likely going to borrow the full amount on a credit card. The collection company suggested that his only other option was to apply for welfare, and with that in place, they would not demand full payment. Does he have any other options? Can they nullify/change his "repayment plan" after accepting his money for two years? The entire debt would have been paid off in another 2.5 years.
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Sep, 2011
      Bill
      The legal jargon you hint at is in the estoppel branch of civil law called the doctrine of acquiescence. This is where a party, without malice, infringes on a right while the injured party knowingly stands by without raising an objection to the infringement of their rights. This is also called acquiescence by silence.

      Consult with a lawyer in your state who has consumer law or civil litigation experience to learn if the doctrine of acquiescence has been a successful litigation tactic.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Sep, 2011
    Sara
    Back in 2009, I went to the emergency room because of a concussion. The bill came out to approximately $5,000. My insurance covered half and I was left with about $2,500. At the time, I was only 19, unemployed, and living on my own. I wasn't able to afford to pay my share of the bill so it went to collections. In 2010, I ended up in the hospital due to a viral infection and the bill came out to be around $2,000. That bill also went to collections as I am still not able to afford it. I am now left with about $5,000 of medical bills that have been sent to collections. My question is: If I leave it alone, will this affect me in about 10 years from now? Also, if I pay it off in 5 years, does it make a difference? I still cannot afford to pay off my bills but I know I'll be able to once of these days after I am able to get a good job but I just want to know what I should do at this point...
    1 Votes

    • 35x35
      Sep, 2011
      Bill
      There is a statute of limitations on debt. The length of the statute depends on your state of residence.

      You don't say if anyone is trying to collect on this debt or not. If not, you can choose to wait things out, hoping that the SOL passes, eliminating your obligation to pay. Even if the SOL passes, the debt can continue to affect you, by appearing on your credit report for 7½ years after the first delinquency.

      Whenever you have the means to start paying on the debt, you can choose to contact the creditor to attempt to work out a payment plan. If no one is contacting you, keep in mind that if you approach a creditor in good faith, attempting to reach a payment you can afford, it can lead to more aggressive collections and threats of legal action. That may not happen, but is a risk to be aware of.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Sep, 2011
    Alyssa
    I am a young full time working person who is not considered low income. In the past two years I have ended up in the hospital. In 2009 for gallbladder removal which cost $12,000 for which I was uninsured. This particular situation worked out fairly well bc my husband lost his job so we qualified for assistance which reduced my bill to $3000. Then again in 2010 I ended up in the hospital for kidney stones costing $6,200, although this time i thought i was ok since I had medical insurance through my husband and an additional plan through my work. No such luck. My husbands insurance covered $300 and my additional plan had a $9000 deductible. I have applied for assistance but was rejected so now they are saying I need to pay the total within 18 months which would be about $350 in addition to the other bill i am still paying on. I am curious how real that 18 month limit truly is. If I continue to pay a monthly amount that I deem is affordable but that will not result in the total amount being paid in 18 months can the hospital send my bill to collection? If the 18 month limit is true what are the options available to a person like me bc I can not afford those two monthly payments?
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Sep, 2011
      Bill
      There is nothing magical about 18 months. This is a hospital policy, perhaps based on experience with other patients. Regardless, if you cannot pay the entire amount in 18 months, you are free to negotiate a longer period. However, the hospital is free to reject your offer and sell your collection account to a collection agent.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Sep, 2011
    beth
    I didn't read all replies, so sorry if redundant. I had an emergency appendectomy last year. No insurance, out of work, single mom..the bills came up to just under 90 thousand dollars. I applied to the hospitals billing department for a bill reduction, and after 1 rejection and appeal, I found out today they reduced it by 100 percent! So before you go bankrupt, apply to the charity that almost all hospitals have. My mom was the one who told me most hospitals have charity. I still owe on bills from outsourced things, like labs, but they hopefully will be reduced as well.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Sep, 2011
    Chris
    Thanks for this very useful discussion! I am homeless and have no resources; I am not a US citizen so I don't qualify for benefits, though I do get food stamps worth $17 a month('Calfresh'). I qualified on grounds of a mental disability and spousal cruelty resulting in divorce, last year. But I do not get SSI or any other benefits. Recently I had cause to be in hospital several times in a few days, one visit being to the county hospital which I believed provided free care. On the other occasion, a paramedic on the scene told me I would be placing myself at a life-threatening risk if I did not go to the nearest hospital by ambulance straight away, whether they charged me or not. So the bills have now appeared, around $6000 worth of them. It's known I am indigent through no fault of my own and that I have no way to pay. I am already bankrupt. I can't be alone in this situation, what's the best way to approach this? I am 60 years old and in poor health, and have no prospect of employment. By the way, it's interesting to note that a 5-minute, uneventful one mile trip to hospital in an ambulance costs two-and-a-half times the price of an MRI scan and evaluation. How companies can charge $1200 for such a trip is beyond justification.
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Sep, 2011
      Bill
      There is not much you can do, if you have no means to offer a payment plan or settlement. If you have no income or bank accounts, there is not much a creditor can do to collect. It is not illegal to owe money; you can't be sent to jail for your medical debt.

      I can't explain nor justify why your costs were so high.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jul, 2011
    Dori
    Hi, I'm hoping someone can give me some direction to go in. My daughter's 20yr old friendwho she grew up with (who is homeless) came to stay with us for several weeks (still here). He was VERY sick with a kidney infection. I took him to my family doctor at an urgent care. He has no medical insurance so I told my family doc to use my credit on my account. My doc supossively offers a cash discount. Today, I received 3 bills for this young man in MY name as the one who owes on these bills? First bill was from family doc who charged me an additional $67 on top of $432 (no cash discount listed either); the 2nd & 3rd were from a Lab. Both these bills total $233. Now when we filled out the papers at docs office, I told the doc I would take care of the bill for the office visit only & confirmed that doc would give me a discount for paying cash. now I'm getting Lab bills for this young man as well. What can do to get my self outta this mess when all I was trying to do is help? Currently I'm writing to the lab company & doc's office asking them for a discount on these bills. Any help would be greatly appreciated!
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Jul, 2011
      Bill
      You answered your own question. You promised the doctor you would guarantee payment of the patient's bill, and in reliance of that promise, the doctor performed services necessary to diagnose and treat the patient. In light of your promise, it is fair and reasonable for the doctor to bill you for his or her office's services plus the lab work. In legal terms, you promised to be the patient's guarantor. If the office has a policy of offering a cash discount for its services, then you are right to insist on that discount.

      In the future, bring any indigent person requiring medical care to the local hospital's emergency room, and do not promise to pay for that person's care.
      0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Jul, 2011
      Dori
      Thanks for your response. I guess I should have been a little more clear with my question. I said I would pay for the doctor's services, but the doctor ordered more lab work and sent it out to a company. I didn't agree to be held accountable for those extra lab charges. The doctor provided the lab company with my info and now they are billing me for these extra charges. I'm I liable for the extra lab charges too?
      0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Jul, 2011
      Bill
      Given the size of the bills, it does not make financial sense to pay for an attorney's assistance.

      I understand you only wanted to help and you don't want to pay for the lab services. However, you asked the doctor to care for the patient and he or she ordered tests she or he deemed necessary. I think the simplest course is to pay the bill and chalk it up as a lesson learned.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jun, 2011
    ann
    My father was a nursing home resident. I was the guarantor for his nursing home payment. He was a hospice patient. The nursing home sent him to the hospital without prior approval from hospice. Medicare refused to pay the bills because my father was enrolled in a hospice. Six weeks later, my father died. I am receiving bills from the doctors and hospital related to that hospital stay. Am I responsible for that debt? My father died intestate.
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Jun, 2011
      Bill
      Speak with an attorney to learn if you are financially responsible for the bills. A key question is whether the nursing home had authority to send him to the hospital or if it needed the approval of the hospice to do so.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jun, 2011
    Anni
    I am in Washington, DC, and am being billed by a hospital and a doctor for treatment from December 2009. My insurance told me that the hospital and doctor took more than 1 year to file the claims, so the insurance won't pay. The doctor and hospital expect me to come up with the $3500 total. I am currently unemployed and don't have that kind of money. Plus, I paid my copay and if they had submitted the claims in a timely manner, they would have their money. Any ideas on what I could do? Thanks.
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Jun, 2011
      Bill
      This is a terrible situation, and is unfortunately one Bills.com readers shared before. It amazes me so many doctors place a low priority on billing insurance companies in a timely manner.

      As the guarantor, the patient has ultimate responsibility for paying a medical provider. On the other hand, the provider and the insurance company have a contract whereby the insurance company receives a discount for its customers. I wonder, and this is purely speculation on my part, if the contract between the medical providers and the insurance companies includes a provision that the provider must bill the insurance company in a certain period of time or risk non-payment.

      Call the DC bar associatiation, and ask for the name of the orgnaizations in your area that provide no-cost legal services to people with low or no income. Make an appointment with that organization, and bring all of the documents relating to the medical debt to your meeting. Ask the lawyer you meet to draft a stern but polite letter to the doctor outlining your position, and explain that it is his or her office's failure he or she is not being paid. The letter should explain that when you signed the contract to receive medical services, it was with the promise and reasonable expectation that his or her office would bill the insurance company in a timely manner. It is the office's failure to keep its side of the bargain that is now causing it to not be paid. You get the idea.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Feb, 2011
    Danae
    Hi, I have a friend in Colorado who has a verbal agreement for child support for his 10 year old daughter who resides in Kansas with her mother. There are no court orders for child support, visitation, or health care coverage; they have an amicable relationship and always work these issues out amongst themselves. That said, he is permanently and totally disabled and unable to work. He is blind and has type 1 diabetes. He has been blind for 3 years now so his income has dropped dramatically. He lives off of a very small amount of disability (SSI and SSDI) and food stamps. He lives in low income housing and barely manages to scrape by every month. He also receives Medicare and Medicaid. He has no assets. He still makes sure his daughter gets support every month and has always done so. Today he received a notice from the state of Kansas stating that he owes them several thousand dollars for his daughters medical bills since she is on Medicare. He has never signed anything guaranteeing payment for any doctor or hospital. My question is this: Can the state of Kansas force him to pay (garnish his disability checks) for his daughters past bills that were paid for by Medicaid? This doesn't seem reasonable to me since he himself receives Medicaid! If he is not liable, how should he respond to this issue since he also cannot afford an attorney? Thanks so much for your help, any advice is greatly appreciated!
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Feb, 2011
      Bill
      Medicaid, administered by the US Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS), pays for medical assistance for certain individuals and families with low income. In the 1980s and 1990s, Congress and HHS added rules requiring absent parents of dependent children to reimburse Medicaid for medical services performed on dependent children and paid for by Medicaid. As a condition of paying for medical services, the child or custodial parent is required to disclose the Social Security number of the absent parent, which the HHS keeps in a registry. When an absent starts employment, the employer is required to ask for the employee's Social Security number, which it discloses to the state. States must parse the HHS registry. When there is a match, the state must garnish the absent parent's wages.

      Your message suggests states must disclose the Social Security number of people who receive disability benefits to the registry as well, although I am unable to find that in the statutes. There may be an administrative appeals process for people like your friend who has a limited ability to pay for his dependent child's medical care. Ask your friend to review the notice he received to learn if there is an appeals process.

      Your friend should consult with a lawyer in his state who has experience in consumer law. You mentioned he cannot afford an attorney. Tell your friend to call his county's bar association and ask for the name of the organization that provides no-cost legal advice to people who have low or no income. Your friend should make an appointment with that organization, and bring all of the documents regarding his Social Security benefit, the housing assistance, his Medicare / Medicaid benefits, the notice from Kansas regarding the child's reimbursement, and notes regarding the support agreement with the custodial parent to his meeting. A lawyer will review the documents, and advise your friend accordingly.
      0 Votes

    • 35x35
      May, 2011
      Elle
      Hello, I am in California. My grandparents do not have medical insurance but recently my grandmother has had several expensive hospital stays. They have no income right now and their only asset is their car and their home. We are wondering what we can do to protect them from losing their home. Would transfering the assets to another family member safeguard their property? Or how about a family trust, and they could be the trustees? We want them to remain in control of their property but not to lose it! They cannot afford an attorney. Thank you so much!
      0 Votes

    • 35x35
      May, 2011
      Bill
      It is possible to create a trust without a lawyer, but I would not recommend it any more than I would recommend a layman setting a broken arm. Your grandparents need to consult with a lawyer. Have your grandparents call the county bar association in the county where they reside. Ask for the name of the organization that provides no-cost legal services to people in their county who have low or no income. Make an appointment with that organization and bring the title to the home, as well as copies of the debt documents. The lawyer they meet will advise them accordingly.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Dec, 2010
    yolanda
    i am being forced to apply for medi-cal. I live in calif and have no medical insurance i was in the hosptial in aug & sept 2010 for an pulmony embusim (blood clot in my lung). between 2 hospital the bills are close to 100k. I tried applying mia (county services plan) but after i was denied and i appeal i was still denied now an legal office representing one of the hospitals, had send me an application for medi-cal. my daugther only receives it for my grandson and if i was added on there will be a share cost of about $500 per month ( i am out of work for 2 years and get unemployment) what rights do I have?
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Dec, 2010
      The Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) finances and administers the California Medical Assistance Program (Medi-Cal), which is California’s version of the Federal Medicaid program. Regarding your rights, there is no requirement that you apply for Medi-Cal, unless you want to be covered by Medi-Cal and qualify. Contact your local county social services agency office and make an appointment with a counselor there. Bring all of the documents regarding your medical billing.
      0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Feb, 2011
      Chipper
      Is it true that illegal aliens who obtain health care in the United States cannot be pursued by collection agencies because they are not citizens?
      0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Feb, 2011
      Bill
      Completely untrue. Citizens or visitors, green carded or undocumented, creditors may use the court system to pursue debtors. Creditors need not prove the debtor is a citizen before filing a breach of contract lawsuit, and conversely, a debtor cannot avoid a lawsuit by claiming foreign citizenship.

      There are civil and criminal protections for diplomats, but diplomats are not in the country illegally.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Oct, 2010
    Bill
    A debt being "called up" is an invention of the collection agent. The collection agent (or original creditor) is growing impatient or wants to see if it can extract more from the debtor and wants to settle the debt. The best option is to negotiate the debt with the collection agent. See the Bills.com resource I just mentioned for tips and tactics to use when reaching an agreement with a collection agent.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Oct, 2010
    Amanda
    Hi, my boyfriend had to have his appendix removed 2 years ago and because of several complications, he has several very high medical bills. He has since been on a payment plan. Just recently, he received a letter that said that his bills had been "called up" and that he has 60 days to pay the bill in its entirety (about $7000). What are his options?
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Sep, 2010
    Bill
    Several facts in your message do not add up. First, most people recall receiving medical care, and you seem surprised by receiving notice of a medical debt from a New Jersey provider. Second, wage garnishment is not allowed under North Carolina law (see North Carolina Collection Laws for details). It is very unlikely that a North Carolina court would order a wage garnishment. Given these two facts, I think it is more likely that a scam artist is attempting to swindle you, and is hoping you will contact him or her and offer to pay a fee to avoid wage garnishment. My guess is there is language to that effect in the notice you received. I hasten to add that I am guessing. Take the notice you received to a North Carolina attorney who corresponds regularly with the North Carolina courts. He or she will be able to tell you at a glance if the notice you received is legitimate or a hoax.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Sep, 2010
    Robin
    Just received a court order requesting to garnish my wages regarding a medical debt in NJ I don't even remember having. I have lived in NC for the past 8 years and have no memory of every receiving any collection notices. I checked my credit reports and there is no medical debt listed, just the credit cards I am aware of having and a car loan. The court order doesn't even list the total amount owed or when the debt was incurred. What can I do about this?
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Aug, 2010
    Bill
    I really want you to consult with your divorce attorney about this question. Just because you are obligated to pay for your children's medical insurance does not mean you are obligated to pay 100% of their medical care. Also, your ex-spouse intentionally causing you financial harm by not forwarding medical bills to you is not something any judge will abide. I realize divorce is contentious -- I have been there -- but spouses need to act like adults especially when it comes to supporting their children.

    The passing of a statute of limitations does not mean a creditor cannot sue you. It means that if a creditor sues you and you raise a statute of limitations defense the court will dismiss the case. The clock starts at last payment, or if there is no payment, when payment was due. Promising to pay the debt will reset the statute of limitations, as will making a payment.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Aug, 2010
    shay
    California - Someone has already asked about half of my question so I apologize for any redundancy. I am court ordered to provide medical coverage for my children as long as it is offered through my employment. The divorce document ommitted any talk of out of pocket medical expenses being split. For several reasons I would prefer not to revisit that document in court. My children live with my ex. When my ex takes my children to the doctor and signs the promise to pay paperwork at the time, am I still 100% liable for the bills as the GAR on the insurance? Most of the time I don't even know they went in, then the bills get sent to his house. once a collection agency tracks me down, it is already on my credit report. He is not a pleasent man and doesn't redirect the bills on purpose. is the statute of limitations for collectors sueing me for the bills expire in 4 years in Calif? After that they can continue to contact me but can't sue me..right? What date starts the statute? What activities other than a payment resets the clock? THANKS!!
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jul, 2010
    Bill
    Yes, dispute the derogatory entry on your credit report. If you have no liability for the account, then it should not appear on your credit report. The collection agent is in violation of the FDCPA for misreporting this debt.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jul, 2010
    Mike
    My wife has a collection account on her credit report for medical services from 2003. We paid a large sum to this company shortly after the collection was filed, but they recently filed a new collection account for services that they "forgot about" from the same procedure. We are disputing this charge. In the meantime, they decided to file this collection account on my credit report which has caused my credit score to drop. Since these services happened prior to our marriage in 2005, do they have any legal rights to file this collection account on my credit report. She was living in NJ at the time which is where the hospital is, but we now live in PA. She did not have insurance at the time, and the entire bill was solely in her name. My name was not listed anywhere on the bill. They only found out about me after I called them to dispute the collection. Is this something that can be removed from my credit report?
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jul, 2010
    Bill
    I do not have enough facts to offer an observation. State law is significant, and you did not mention your state, as is the age of the debt, about which your facts are also silent. You mention court costs, but say there was no hearing. Only an attorney who has access to all of your documents and can ask you probing questions can advise you accurately.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jul, 2010
    rhonda
    I am being sued for an old medical bill we didn't know we had. I have made several attempts to pay but they send the checks back. Then they are charging me for court costs but it never went to court, do I have to pay if it didn't go to court?
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jul, 2010
    Bill
    I see no legal reason preventing a hospital from asking you to promise to pay for the services you are about to receive. Most hospitals are businesses, and even charitable hospitals need their customers to pay for services rendered so that they remain viable financially.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jul, 2010
    Tammy
    I have to have surgery in a week. The hospital called to tell me what I owe. They said I have to sign a promissory note to pay it off in 6-months. I cant afford $400 a month as I am a single mother of 2. Can a hospital make you sign a promissory note before surgery is done?
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jun, 2010
    Bill
    Negotiating with a creditor will not restart the statute of limitations. There is a public policy behind this rule. Courts want to encourage out-of-court settlements. If negotiations restarted a statute of limitations, then defendants would have a disincentive to negotiate. If the creditor is not contacting you, then I would have no contact with the creditor especially with the pending expiration of the statute of limitations for written contracts. If the creditor is attempting to contact you, you have no reason not to begin negotiations. Remember to validate the debt. Do not rush. Consult with an attorney about your statute of limitations question before paying the creditor anything.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jun, 2010
    Jenay
    Bill, Thank you for your response. I apologize; when I used the phrase "CA," I was abbreviating collection agency. I have always resided in Arizona, and this is where the medical bill was incurred. At this point, I am uncertain of whether I should wait this out until the 6 year point is met in October, or if I should contact the collection agency for a settlement. I am afraid that if I contact them, it will restart the clock.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jun, 2010
    Bill
    I am somewhat confused by the facts you presented. I assume you reside in Arizona. I am unclear on where the medical services were provided -- Arizona, California or elsewhere? Regarding whether medical service is an open or written contract, I am uncertain if this is settled in Arizona. Find an attorney in Arizona attorney who has experience in consumer law. He or she will review your documentation and offer precise advice based on the facts in your situation. Whatever you do at this point, do not pay the collection agent a dime because doing so will result in a reset of the statute of limitations.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jun, 2010
    Jenay
    I am in Arizona. When I was 19, I was in a car accident and incurred medical debt due to not having insurance. This was in 2004. I have been receiving threatening letters from a collection agency wanting me to pay $8,134. Basically, the last letter stated that they are going to do an asset search on me to determine whether or not to sue me. First, can they do this with no judgement? Second, the SOL in AZ is 6 years for written contracts and 3 years for open contracts. I am approaching the 6 year mark for this debt, as the letter from the CA states the date of service was 10/15/04, although I have not verified this through the hospital. My second question is, would medical debt be considered a written or open contract? Should I worry about them suing me at this point? Your advice is much appreciated.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jun, 2010
    Bill
    The answer to you question varies by state law. You did not mention your state so I cannot answer your question.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jun, 2010
    Heather
    I have some medical bills that went to small claims court and now the credit company wants more money on the same account that they took me to court on. And I was wondering if they can take me back to court for the rest of bill?
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    May, 2010
    Bill
    When you wrote, "VA" I am assuming you are referring to Virginia state statute. "Charge-off" is irrelevant. My guess -- note that word choice -- that under Virginia law the passing of the statute of limitations is irrelevant as well, for the purposes of your question. The real issue I believe is, "Was the debt forgiven?" Did the creditors issue 1099Cs on the debts? If so, the debt no longer exists. That is probable under these circumstances. If so, it no longer needs to be repaid. If not, the debt still exists. I urge you to consult with an attorney in your state who has experience in either probating estates or in bankruptcy.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    May, 2010
    Brigitte
    My mother-in-law died in January, 2004. At that time she had no assets and therefore had an insolvent estate. She had a bunch of credit card debt and doctor/hospital bills. Prior to her death I was her POA and I received all mail. About a year and a half after her death I received one of those "class action" lawsuit mailings and was tempted to throw it away. I contacted an attorney and learned that she was in fact entitled to funds and that suit had to be filed by her administrator. I qualified in October 2006 as the administrator of her estate. While we were hoping for a larger settlement worth over $300,000, her claim was finally settled for approximately $137,000. After attorney fees and repayment to Medicare (for a lien they held), the estate received approximately $35,000 in August, 2009. There was a tax issue with IRS which I have now settled. According to VA, I must pay her debt (after paying all taxes) before any beneficiary can receive funds. I have pulled a copy of her credit report and there are approximately 5 credit cards which have been closed and/or charged off, all in 2004. Is the estate still responsible for these debts or not due to a statue of limitation or since no claim was made.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Mar, 2010
    Bill
    Diana: Please read my reply to Sandy above dated 3/1/2010. The facts of your question vary slightly from Sandy's, but the analysis is identical.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Mar, 2010
    Diana
    My father is a foreigner. He was treated by a doctor hete in UCA, California. He paid for his visits at the time of service. I did not sign any papers of financial responsibility. Now, my Dad left the country and apparently there was some ubpaid balance that he was not billed when he was at the doctor's office for his last visit. Now, I am receiving calls and letters form the Doctor's office demanding payment and threting to turn the matter to the collection agency. Am I really responsible for that debt?
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Mar, 2010
    Bill
    Raj: Please see the answer I wrote to Sandy on March 1, 2010 above. The facts in Sandy's situation are slightly different from yours, but the issues are identical and my answer would be identical.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Mar, 2010
    Bill
    Sandy: There is no family debt bondage in the US. If a parent is a debtor and does not pay, a child is not responsible for the debt. However, medical debt may be more complicated by the addition of a contractual obligation that a third-party assumes. A third party, called a "guarantor" may assume responsibility for a patient's medical debt if the third part signs a guarantor agreement, which usually occurs when the patient is admitted or when services are rendered. If you did not sign a guarantor agreement then you have no liability for your parents' medical care. If you did, then you do have liability. Here is an important point to remember: Some collection agents are unscrupulous, may prey on your ignorance of the law, and tell you that you have liability when in fact you do not. Therefore, do not take a collection agent's statement on face value that you do have liability. Before you pay a dime to a creditor here, be certain to validate the debt. If you have doubts about your liability, which you should in these circumstances, consult with an attorney in your state who has experience in consumer law. An attorney will be able to review all of your documents relating to the debt in person and advise you accordingly.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Feb, 2010
    Raj
    Hi, I have signed affidavit, so my parents can get tourist visa ten years ago. Recently father was admitted in hospital and my mother sign the papers. My parents don't have SSN and any property or bank account here. Me and my wife own a house here with joint name. My question to you is that can hospital or collection agency force me to pay the bill or take charge of my house?
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Feb, 2010
    Sandy
    8 months back we were in an auto accident and I was at fault. I had my parents visiting from a different country and they were in the same vehicle. ER and air ambulance consts sum up to 150,000. Parents went back but Dad passed away 2 months ago. Mom does not have the means to pay. My own hospital dues are already paid off. Am I personally liable for my parent's medical debt? Bills have been coming in their names and all bills have already gone to collections. I'm scared of wage garnishments.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Feb, 2010
    Bill
    See the Bills.com Collection Laws and Statute of Limitations page to get some basic information about the rights in each state. Idaho's statute of limitations is four years on debt.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Feb, 2010
    Phyllis
    We were in an auto accident 2 years ago. I am now getting doctor bills from doctors stating I had their services after the accident. How long am I liable to pay these bills? In Idaho. Phyllis
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Feb, 2010
    Cheryl
    UPDATED QUESTION: I had some dental work done in 2003, 2 root canals, and prep work for 3 crowns, (2 of them for the teeth w/ root canals). They said when I had 1/2 of the $5,900.00 paid, they would put the crowns on. Shortly after, I went on Social Security for disability. I started out paying $200.00 a month and then dropped to 50 for a year till 2004. From 2004 through Dec 2007 they received 10.00 a month. I am so broke I had to change the amt down to $5.00 a month for the last two years. I have had them on auto pay from my bank for the past seven years. I do not have the permanent crowns. I have never missed a payment in the seven years since this work was done. They have never refused the $5.00 payment for the past two years. Today, I received a letter stating that my current balance is $4860.00. They state that I have not made $10.00 monthly payments since 2005, even though I have bank history to prove last $10.00 pmt was Dec of 2007. They state that it will take eighty one years to pay of this debt and I have not honored my financial agreement and have become "out of trust" with my payment obligation. They advise that my balance is now due in full or they will proceed with collection procedures. They have been accepting my regular payments for 7 years! I receive less than 870.00 a month in SS. I can hardly afford rent & utilities as it is. How do I respond to this threat? Let them proceed with collection?
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Feb, 2010
    Bill
    Cheryl: Your medical debt is unsecured consumer debt, and as such is treated by the law as credit card debt, a payday loan, or a deficiency judgment. See the Bills.com resource What Are My Debt Resolution Options? to understand your rights, liabilities, and possible solutions.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jan, 2010
    Bill
    Your credit report will list the current creditor. Go to AnnualCreditReport.com or call 1-877-322-8228 to get no-cost, no-gimmick, no-sign-up-for-anything copies of your credit report from each of the three major consumer credit reporting companies.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jan, 2010
    Heidi
    Okay, now my next question is, How do I figure out if the hospital has sold my account? I had been getting phone calls from a collection agency, and have gotten 1 letter, (I believe) from the same company, but I haven't received any mail from them in about 5 or 6 months. None of the 800 #'s that call me leave any messages any more either. (If I don't know who it is, or the name doesn't show, I don't answer it anyway) Altho one of the last phone calls (that left a message from them) I received the caller was listed as "ASS H" (not kidding!) I haven't contacted anyone yet, I want to get most of my 'ducks in a row' first.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jan, 2010
    Bill
    My guess -- note my word choice -- is that the hospital's negotiator is aware that you have a settlement from the other driver's insurance company, and wants to maximize the amount it can collect because settlements are intended to reimburse plaintiffs for their damages. If the hospital assigned or sold the debt to a collection agent, the hospital should not be speaking to your attorney about the debt. Ask your attorney to speak to the collection agent. If the hospital sold the debt to the collection agent then it did so at a steep discount. The collection agent may be more flexible in its negotiations. Bottom line is that you (both you yourself and your attorney) should be working together and negotiating with either the hospital or its collection agent but not both.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jan, 2010
    Heidi
    Thank you for responding to my previous email...pertaining to attorney, hospital bill etc. My attorney has given us the choice to either take the remainder of the proceeds from the settlement and deal with the hospital on our own or settle with them now. I did however find out that the attorney has been dealing with the hospital directly and not the collection agency. If I did this on my own would it be better for me to deal with the collection agency? My thinking is if I pay the hospital directly, I don't want the collection agency coming after me later on. Should I look for another debt help agency to help me with this or would it just be like feeding another monster? (financially wise) The settlement was for 60K, over half of course went to the attorney, if I give the hospital what they want (22k) I'll have nothing left for future medical bills from the accident. The attorney hasn't got an answer as to why they are being difficult either. Our budget is so tight it squeaks.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jan, 2010
    Bill
    As a general rule, I do not contradict the advice from a reader's attorney. The attorney has all of the relevant information at hand, understands the local jurisdiction's laws, and has an attorney-client relationship with the reader. You did not mention the amount of the settlement but I surmise it is less than your medical bills. You and the hospital have two choices: Work out a compromise for less than the full balance out of court, or declare bankruptcy and let the bankruptcy trustee dictate to the hospital hoe much it will receive. Regarding your question, as a Florida resident, your home is exempt from attachment. (That is why OJ Simpson moved from California to Florida before his civil trial for wrongful death -- if he lost the civil trial he could continue to live in an upscale residence.)
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jan, 2010
    Heidi
    I was in an auto accident just over a year ago. Someone else's fault. Thankfully I had no major injuries. We (husband and I) live in Florida. I had to hire an attorney and we finally got a small settlement out of court. My husband is the only one who has medical insurance in our family, our two children and I are without. My auto insurance (PIP) paid 10k of the ER bill. The total was 34000. When I first began getting calls from the hospital I spoke with them and they wanted a monthly payment of 381.00!! I work parttime at just above minimum wage and my husband's job pays fair. I told them at the moment, we can only pay about 5. per month until the settlement comes. They wouldn't accept it. I even sent a letter stating so, but they wouldn't accept it, (altho of course they cashed my check) So of course the phone calls began. I was advised by our attorney to ignore them. so I did. Now that it's finally settled, altho I do not have enough to cover expenses that will incurr for the rest of my life from the accident, the hospital is unwilling to work with my attorney to accept a final payment! What gives! Note also, my husband did not sign any paperwork from the hospital, and I do not remember signing anything. I do not have a problem paying them, my beef is the fact that they are charging me an assinine price that even the insurance company wouldn't pay. Right now we are at a standstill and I just don't know how to proceed. We filed bankruptcy over 14 years ago and I'd prefer not to do it again ever. My attorney told me that because the debt is mine and everything we have is in joint ownership they can't touch it. Is that true? Also he gave us basically two options. 1 is to let him continue to try to work with the hospital. 2 is to just take the remainder of the monies fromt he sttlement and work with the hospital later on our own. I will have yearly expenses from this accident, I don't want to give them everything I received, I don't want to have my wages or anything else messed with. We finally got our credit back in good shape from the previous mess. Any help or suggestions would be appreciated. ( I was also considering either going to our local news program, Vern Buchanan, Charlie Crist or all three. This is just ridiculous!
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Nov, 2009
    Jordan
    I have been through the same issues as many of you reading this. I had medical debt over 232,000 that I owed, I never filed a chapter 7 or made much effort to re-pay. I just setup a simple payment plan 5.00 a month and they cannot do anything to you as long as you pay something. Even know I found a cash paying job and one on a payroll after 15 months of being out of work, I still only pay 5.00 monthly and dont intend to increase those payments before I pay myself first in a savings.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Nov, 2009
    Bill
    If your sister-in-law is a minor then by public policy her parents are responsible for her medical care costs. Assuming she is an adult, if a sibling or parent checked her into the hospital and signed an admission form that included guarantor language, then that person is liable for the costs incurred. In general, medical debts are no different from any other unsecured debt, such as credit card debt. Feudal debt bondage that ensnares an entire family because of one blood relative's misfortune may still occur today, but it is not legal in the United States.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Nov, 2009
    Tamra
    My sister-in-law attempted suicide. She is going on her 10th day in a coma and incurring considerable medical debt. She has no assests and no job, medical coverage, nothing. Her parents are in debt and are unemployed. Will the medical debt be transferred to my husband (her brother) and I?
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Oct, 2009
    Bill
    My condolences on your loss. My first and probably last thought regarding your question is a recommendation that your mother bring the admission forms and other related documents she signed when your father was in the hospital, the deed to the house, and the medical bills to an attorney. If the house was titled as a joint tenancy, 100% of the ownership of the property became your mother's the instant your father died. The property is not an asset in his estate -- it is your mother's property only. The hospital and other medical service providers have a claim against your father's estate, which must be handled in a process called probate. You mentioned your father died without a will. In lawyer-speak, this is known as dieing intestate. An administrator will be appointed to oversee the disposition of your father's estate, including handling any claims against his estate by medical service providers and anyone else who thinks your father owed them money. Be advised his estate is liable for these debts, and not your mother, you, or your siblings. However, if your mother signed an admission form or other document that made her a guarantor of your father's medical services, she may have liability. Again, see an attorney.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Oct, 2009
    Carlos
    My father passed away on Sept 21, 2009 from cancer. His medical care left bills unpaid of 150,000 estimate. My mother received a life insurance policy of 210k and the deed of their house had both of them as joint tenants. He left no will, except he named my mother as beneficiary in his life insurance and 401k. My mother signed authorizing treatments for my father that were necessary when he was too ill and conscious to make medical decisions. All of the bills are written to his name. Can the health insurance company sue his estate (which I assume is the house whose deed is still under my mothers and my fathers name)to get paid? what if my mother updates the deed to reflect only herself as the owner? In CA, once a joint tenant dies, the survivor gets the property. can the insurance companies still sue to get their money?
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Oct, 2009
    Ruth
    If the guarantor passes away is the patient (wife)responsible for her medical bills that are still open.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Oct, 2009
    Bill
    A guarantor is another party who agrees to pay if the patient doesn't. Generally speaking, adult patients are responsible for paying for medical services rendered. Absent some agreement to the contrary, the death of a guarantor does not remove a patient's liability to pay their medical bills.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Sep, 2009
    Bill
    It would be helpful to know 1) if your son is an adult, and 2) how the medical costs for your son are handled in your divorce agreement. The fact that you are footing the bill for your son's medical insurance does not give him or his mother carte blanche to order whatever medical procedure they wish and have dear old dad pay for it. I suggest you revisit your divorce agreement and review the section on medical expenses to see how your attorney's planned to handle this issue. If this was not spelled out, I suggest you reacquaint yourself with your divorce attorney and ask him or her what your obligations are under your state's laws. One last thought: Do not believe legal advice from collection agents. Their statements regarding a debtor's rights are usually wrong or incomplete, and are always self-serving.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Sep, 2009
    Charles
    My ex-wife has a debt, which she incurred AFTER we were divorced, and she was remarried. However, the bill is a medical bill for our son. The medical bill in question was NOT for a medically necessary treatment; basically, a nurses aid, a glorified baby sitter, provided services for my son. Again, I approved of no services, I asked for no services, nor did I agree to any services. Further, this is a service my insurance did not cover due to not being medically necessary. Now, I have received letters, threatening to sue me for this money (over $14K). I believe I am not responsible. What legal options do I have?
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Aug, 2009
    Bill
    The hospital admissions form usually contains language establishing who is the responsible party, or guarantor, if the insurance company fails to pay. Even though an adult child is covered by a parent's insurance, I can't see how a child checking themselves into a hospital can obligate his or her parents to pay for their uninsured medical fees.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Aug, 2009
    sue
    my daughter is 23 years old and is currently under my health insurance because she is a full time student but is living in an off campus apartment. If she was to become ill and had to be hospitalized and the insurance did not cover all of the medical bills would we be responsible for any outstanding bills because she is on my insurance? Thank you in advance for your time
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jul, 2009
    Bill
    It really depends on if she is a co-guarantor on any of the bills, or if they live in a community property state. You can look here to learn about state by state collections laws (including community property): http://www.bills.com/collection-laws/ You should really consult an attorney, however, and get specific advice for your state and situation. Good luck and our condolences on your family's loss. Bills.com
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jul, 2009
    Ali
    My father passed away 2 weeks ago. My mother carried his medical insurance through her work. All of his medical bills come to her because she is primary on the insurance since she is the one employed. His estate has nothing and he had no life insurance. They do not own a home and the car they do own is in her name only. Is she responsible for the debt just because her name is on the bill, even though he was the patient or can she not pay these bills because he has passed and has nothing in his estate for the creditors to come after?
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jul, 2009
    Justin
    My girlfriends father passed away. There is three kids the oldest being 32. The 32 year old will be the administrator of estate until the will is located. We think its in a safe deposit box but we have no clue what bank it's with. My question is what happens to the medical bills that were accumulated while he was alive. It's close to 30,000.00. There is money to pay them but the kids don't feel that they should have to. Do you have any other advise for someone who has never been thru an event like this. Any info will be much appriciated. Thanks Oh and we live in W.V.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jul, 2009
    Bill
    Justin, this can be an unsettling time for everyone in and near the family. It's good for you to offer emotional support to your girlfriend. Of course, the trick is not to involve yourself too much in her family's dynamics. No one has any legal standing regarding the estate until the will is located. Suggest to your girlfriend that she and her siblings talk to the attorney who wrote her father's will to learn if the father left any clues to the will's location. Most people don't use many banks, so once you find the safe deposit key, it should be easy to find the right bank. As for the $30,000 in medical bills, what I wrote above to another answer applies here as well: "When a person passes away, the decedent’s debts do not automatically pass to his spouse, children, or anyone else. Debts incurred by an individual are owed solely by that individual; if a person dies before his debt is paid off, then the creditor can attempt to collect the debt from the individual’s estate, meaning that the debt would be paid before any money or other assets are passed to his heirs. However, if the person dies without sufficient assets to pay off the debt, then the debt is uncollectible and the creditor will likely write it off its books."
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jul, 2009
    Mark
    This is a nightmare scenario that touches on five subjects in the law, including contracts, remedies, property, wills and estates, and (potentially) professional responsibility. First, bring these facts to the executor and learn when payments were made to settle the estate, when the sale of her property took place, and where the proceeds of the sale went. You should have all of this information at your fingertips, and I think it's odd that you don't. The medical payments should have been made from the estate in a timely manner. Second, learn what the statute of limitations is in your state: http://www.bills.com/collection-laws/ If the statute of limitations has run on that debt, you or the estate may have a legal defense preventing collections on the debt. However, that's a question an attorney in your state should answer. Finally, if the facts you outlined in your note are substantially correct, the executor may have failed in his or her duties of competence to your mother's estate. Again, take your facts to an attorney, who can review all of the facts and put them in context of your state's law.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jul, 2009
    Anita
    Hello, My mother died in April of 2003 from leukemia. I received a bill this past March 2009 from an attorney stating that I owe the Hospice Unit of the Hospital over $3,400 dollars for use of the room she was in for three weeks. I did sign a guarantor note, but assumed there would be no problem since my mother owned a small home that should have covered the expense. Well, evidently there was some type of lien on my mothers property that held her estate up. Meanwhile, vandils broke into my mother's house and set the place on fire. I have no idea what happend to the estate after that and now I'm getting this bill. Am I responsible for paying this? It is clearly not my fault the estate took so long, and I still don't have any idea if anyone received money from the property. Shouldn't her outstanding medical bills been paid first if anything?
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jun, 2009
    Bill
    They cannot make you pay for your boyfriend's medical bills and that makes me mad that they would allege that. Please go to get a free consultation from a bankrupty attorney or a collections attorney and ask them if there is an FDCPA violation relating to this misstatement. Good luck Becky. Hang in there. Bill
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Mar, 2011
      sam
      I have a similar situation to above, my ex boyfriend went to a counselor and listed me as emergency contact, since we have kids together, now I am being sued for his medical debt and they are claiming he listed me as spouse. We have never been married, wouldn't they need to verify that since they tried to go to court, especially seeing that I don't have his last name?
      0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Mar, 2011
      Bill
      It is common today for married people to have different last names, so whether you and your cohabitant had the same or different last names does not tell the world if you were related by blood or marriage.

      If your ex-boyfriend listed you as an emergency contact, then the medical service provider has no cause of action against you, even if he indicated you were his spouse. However, if you signed a guarantor contract at the time the medical services were rendered, then you have liability for the unpaid debt, regardless of your marital status.

      Based on the facts presented, you have an excellent chance to have yourself removed as a defendant in this lawsuit. Consult with a lawyer in your state. You will need to file a motion that explains you are not the other defendant's spouse, and unless the plaintiff can come up with a guarantor agreement you signed, you have no liability for your ex-boyfriend's medical debt.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jun, 2009
    Becky
    My boyfriend and I have lived together in Florida since 2004. Last year we had a baby son. My son & I have health insurance through my job, my boyfriend has none. He has been diagnosed with cancer and is in the hospital ringing up a $350,000 medical bill. I have been in contact with the hospital administrator to see what can be done about negotiating the price down. She says I am responsible for the hospital bill since I am the wage earner in the house and he does not work, but stays at home with our child. Is this true? Can they make me pay his bills?
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Apr, 2009
    Bill
    There is not enough information here for me to provide any guidance. If your husband's ex used your husbands insurance information, then he will be held liable for the medical bills.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Apr, 2009
    deborah
    The ex of my husband took their kids to the doctor and said he will pay for that, she never talked with my husband and neither the doctors did. she wouldn't even run the insurance. Now a debt collector is going to sue my husband, but it isn't his debt, and the collectors will not take the half that he has to pay by law, they just treat him like the primary debtor....what do we do about? the ex doesn't want to pay, and the debt collector aren't behind her!!
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Mar, 2009
    Bill
    Debbie, if you were the designated beneficiary, then the proceeds will go directly to you. Read more at: http://wills.about.com/od/howtoavoidprobate/a/insurancebills.htm
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Mar, 2009
    Debbie
    Husband passed away unexpectedly. We had no will,then again we have no real assests except a 10 yr old car in his name, rented our home and paying on his car, again soley in his name. Lots of medical bill for him and our daughter, our medical insurance was thru his work, I do not believe I ever signed any of the medical documents except for the emergency room for him but I did for my daughter. Again there is no estate, but I am beneficiary on the life insurance policy. Am i responsible for paying off the medical bills for him, or my daughters since they were under his insurance? I gave up my job 10 yrs ago to raise his 2 kids and then our 2 kids and I will need this money to provide for the kids until I can find work. These bills will take over half. Finding work in Michigan is a monumental task right now.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Feb, 2009
    Bill
    I don't think you'd be liable, since your father's debts and assets will be dealt with in probate. Unless you personally guaranteed his debts and medical bills it shouldn't pass to you, but talk to a lawyer if you get pursued for his debt.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jan, 2009
    Bill
    When a person passes away, the decedent’s debts do not automatically pass to his spouse, children, or anyone else. Debts incurred by an individual are owed solely by that individual; if a person dies before his debt is paid off, then the creditor can attempt to collect the debt from the individual’s estate, meaning that the debt would be paid before any money or other assets are passed to his heirs. However, if the person dies without sufficient assets to pay off the debt, then the debt is uncollectible and the creditor will likely write it off its books.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jan, 2009
    Ginger
    Hello, My husband was traveling & had to be rushed to the hospital in Alabama he passed away. I was not with him. I did make it there to be with him. I never signed for anything except for them to give him a flu shot. We live in Tn.I just recieved one bill for over $58.000 We did not have health insurance. Am i responsible for those medical bills? I have been laid off from work for almost a yr now. I don't know what to do. Thank you
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jan, 2009
    Bill
    Please visit: http://www.occc.state.tx.us/pages/consumer/education/DebtColl.htm
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jan, 2009
    pat
    My husband broke his neck this Nov. So Far hosital bills, doctor bills, etc are at 40,000. We can only make 10.00 payments to each,each month(100.00 to large ones)In Texas can they take our house which is homesteaded, our bank accounts,savings,investments??
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jan, 2009
    Bill
    You should check your credit report from each of the 3 credit bureaus (you can get one for free at www.annualcreditreport.com) for the statuts of these accounts. If they have been sent to collection agaencies, it will be mentioned on your report. Each collection agency has its own rules as far as when they will sue you, but you can expect the process to start if the debts pass beyond the 6 month mark. You should look into debt settlement programs such as the one offered by freedom debt relief, where they will negotiate these debts down to a fraction of what you owe bassed on the medical hardship. You can get a free consultation either by calling them diretctly at 1-800-544-7211 or by visiting www.freedomdebtrelief.com
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jan, 2009
    Ady
    Hi I filed for bankruptcy a little over a year ago due to school induced credit card debt. I make 30/year and just got married. He is a full time student. Right before the wedding i had several trips to the ER and finally my gallbladder removed. I incurred over 40K in debt. I tried to make payments in the beginning, but when my husband lost his job I could barely afford the regular bills. the biggest bill is 27K for hospital stay. I know most already got sent to creditors. Will I be sued? If so, how much time before that step happens? :( Any help at all would be greatly appreciated.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Nov, 2008
    Bill
    As long as your boyfriend has all the title documents for the home clearly in his name, there is no danger of the creditor putting a lien on his house. He is doing the right thing by reporting the creditors about his stand.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Nov, 2008
    CRears
    Hi Bill, My boyfriend purchased a home in Pennsylvania in August 2006 from the grandson of a woman who died in May of that year. Since he moved in, every couple of months, he receives notices for unpaid bills for the grandmother's medical services (e.g., ambulance rides, home oxygen delivery), all less than $200. He has always returned the letters to their senders with a note stating that he is no relation to the billee and that the biller needs to contact the deceased woman's next of kin. Is this enough, or is there something else he needs to do to get the statements to stop? If a much larger bill shows up, is there any danger of a creditor trying to put a lien on his house? He has no contact with the woman's family, but the house was deeded in her name before he bought it. Thanks for any advice!
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Oct, 2008
    Nithin
    You should order a copy of your credit reports from each of the three bureaus. If they have reported this debt as unpaid, the account will be listed on your report and will also state the date of the last payment. The statute of limitations in the state of Tennessee is 6 years from the date of the last payment, and therefore it is still valid for them to collect on. When you do start your contact with them, write a letter to them stating the circumstances and ask for the debt to be validated, you can find a sample debt validation letter here: http://www.oskie.com/free-letter/debt-validation-letter-collections-collection-company-agency.htm Once you have received an explanation, you could then initiate a direct phone conversation and then ask for a lower settlement or a payment plan.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Oct, 2008
    Ramona
    I received a bill today for my daughter who was in a hosptial in Tennessee in 2005 where we lived at the time. I have never received any bills prior to the one today saying that I owe them money. We had insurance coverage at the time of the hosptialization and until today, thought that all the bills were paid through the insurance. The bill that I received had a very nasty note attached accusing me of ignoring this debt for so long, etc but I HAVE NEVER received a statement before today. It is not a letter from a collection agency that I can tell, just a statement from the facility. We now reside in Virginia (for 2 years). My question: what are the SOL's for such a debt when no contact has been made to collect since day one? How do I approach this when I make contact with the facility? Any help you can offer would greatly be appreciated. Ramona Drescher
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Feb, 2009
    jennifer
    my friends father past away and was homeless if she responsible for the medical bills?
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Aug, 2008
    Bill
    Given your limited income, I think bankruptcy would be the best option for you. You can read more about bankruptcy at http://www.bills.com/bankruptcy/. You will need to check to see if you can qualify for bankruptcy given that you filed one 3 years ago. I doubt that the creditors will accept the $10 payment given the large size of your debt. Collection laws vary from state to state, please visit http://www.bills.com/collection-laws/ to get an idea of the state rules.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Aug, 2008
    Susan
    I recently had open-heart surgery and incurred $103,000 in medical bills. I am a musician and don't make enough to pay for my current bills. I make about $10,000 a year, and have diabetes and can't do my normal work as a welder. If I pay $10 a month towards that bill, will that keep the creditors off my back. I live in Texas. If not, what can I do. I filed bankruptcy about three years ago.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Feb, 2008
    Nathan
    If you cannot afford the payment plans that the hospitals are offering, then you may be right, filing for bankruptcy might be the only option to pursue.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Feb, 2008
    mike
    I have arond 200.000 thousand in medical bills.Should i file bankruptcy the hospitals offers a payment plan that i cant afford.What should i do
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Jun, 2011
      Lennette
      That is a lot of bills. It would take a long time to pay. I would file bankruptcy without much thought.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Sep, 2007
    Cory
    I filed for chapter 7 in 2005 due to unpaid credit card bills. It was granted and i thought things were finally moviong foward in my life. However, i lost my job soon after and was diagnosed with a dialated cardiomyopathy in September of 2005. I have had numerous doctor's appointments, emergency room visits and tests performed since. The medical bills i have accumulated are too great for my small monthly income. What are my options and what should i do?
    1 Votes

  • 35x35
    Nov, 2007
    Carole
    My husband was diagnosed with lung cancer in June. He passed away Oct.15th. He was told that he could possible live longer with Chemo and Radiation treatments. He opted to "stick around as long as possible." All his medical bills are in his name. I signed no papers. Am I, as his beneficiary, liable for those bills? Please help. I am 67 yrs. old, and work part time, making $8.65 per hr. He had no insurance. Can I lose my home? I can't sleep at night and cry all day. What can I do?
    36 Votes

  • 35x35
    Nov, 2007
    Nate
    Please consult a qualified attorney to know the recourses available to you. As a general rule, survivors of a deceased person are not responsible for that person's debts. There are exceptions to that rule: - If someone co-signs a promissory note along with the deceased person, then he/she will be liable even if the co-signature was an accommodation only and did not benefit the co-signer financially. - If someone guarantees the payment of the debt then on the death of the primary obligor, if his estate has insufficient assets to pay the debt, the creditor can demand that the guarantor pay the debt. Also, if the deceased person's estate distributes estate property to its beneficiaries before all debts of the deceased person have been paid, the creditor can recover all or part of the debt out of the property distributed to the beneficiary. The creditor cannot get at the beneficiary's other property, only the property received from the estate can be reached by creditors.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Dec, 2007
    alexander
    i am currently repaying my medical debt through a monthly payment plan but, i did have medical insurance through blue cross who said they had dropped my coverage on the day i had surgery but, when i talked to a customer service represenative they said i wasnt covered at all. no one at the hospital informed me i wasnt covered and they usually check that you are covered before they perform any medical procedure. I believe i have been sued for a bill that my insurance company didnt want to pay what should i do?
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Dec, 2007
    Park
    Usually, it is the responsibility of the patient to make sure that they have coverage for the medical procedure. I hope you have saved all the documents for the medical procedures. As medical coverages are specific to the insured party I cannot really comment on what your insurance company covered or did not cover. First, you should check on your credit report to see what items are showing as derogatory. You will also be able to get the contact details of the company that owns the debt now. You should try and get in touch with them to explain your situation. With respect to the bill that you are being sued on, if you can show that you had coverage during the time of the procedure and assuming that your plan covered your procedure, you can contest the claim. Even otherwise, you should try to work out a repayment plan. When creditors initiate legal procedures, they are mandated to inform you about it by mail. If you did not recieve any communication about the debt you are being sued upon, then you have strong case to get it dismissed.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jan, 2008
    Ann
    My mother passed away in September, 2006. My question is how long am I liable for any medical bills that still may be received. According to her will, all of her debts should be paid. Is there a limitation on the amount of time that a bill can be received by me, her only survivor.
    2 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jan, 2008
    Nate
    Being the legal heir, her debts are your reponsibility now. You are only liable for the debts that she owed at the time of passing. The rationale is that anyone staking claim to the assets of an estate, should also be willing to accept its liabilities. It is up to the creditor to follow up with you for collection of debt. The normal Statute of Limitations will apply (these vary from state to state).
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jan, 2008
    njawali
    All states have a body of statutes in their codes of law called, “Limitations of Actions,” commonly referred to as the statutes of limitations. The length of time a creditor has to sue you depends on your state of residence and the type of debt. For example, many states allow longer for creditors to file suit to collect on closed ended consumer loans than on credit card debts. Most states give credit card issuers 3 to 4 years to file suit after default, but some states allow as many as 10 years. Check out http://www.bcsalliance.com/y_debt_sol.html for more information.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jan, 2008
    SonjaE
    Being sued for mmedical bills from 2001. Isn't there a statue of limitations in Pennsylvania. Don't even remember what these bills were for
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Mar, 2008
    Bill
    In most states, probably yes. The debts incurred by either spouse during marriage are generally adjudged to be marital debts. The creditors can pursue either of you jointly or severally, and also make a claim against his estate. State laws vary, and the above is intended as general advice, and not direct legal advice regarding any one particular situation in any one state. For direct personal legal advice related to your own situation you should consult an attorney familiar with the laws of your state and with your situation.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Mar, 2008
    berlynn
    Hello, i live in California. My husband past away in january. He had two insurances, but not both of them will cover for all of the hospital stay, surgery, etc...So is it my repsonsibility to pay for his medical bills?
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Apr, 2008
    Bill
    Whoever is the legal heir in charge of her estate, will also be responsible for her debts.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Apr, 2008
    carolyn
    My mother died recently and the money from her two burial policies was not enough to bury her. The only thing she owns is a house and we will not be selling it now because of the low real estate market. She has one bill that a doctor sent to a credit company and she was paying 25.00 a month. Are we responsible for that bill?
    1 Votes