Everything About Medical Debt Collection

Stop Debt Collectors Everything About Medical Debt Collection

How to Deal With Medical Debt Collection

Medical bills are one of the most common forms of debt collectors deal with. An unexpected health issue can run up a tab many of us cannot deal with quickly, especially if our health insurance does not help cover it.

A trip to the emergency department can easily cost hundreds to over a thousand dollars. Typically, an overnight stay in the hospital will run more than $10,000. Not many of us can pay something like this off quickly. And if you miss a couple of payments, the hospital, ambulance service, and even a doctor's office can turn you over to collections.

The consequences and how you should deal with them can be complex and confusing. There is help available through the DoNotPay app, but first, you need to understand some facts about medical debt collection and how companies like Enhanced Resource Centers (ERC) work.

How Does Medical Debt Collection Work?

Health care providers can be a bit more lenient in their medical debt collection practices than credit card companies, but generally, you can expect the following.

The Early Stages

It is considered delinquent if you have received a medical bill and have not made a payment or payment arrangements within 30 days following the payment due date. Beyond receiving the bill, you may start to receive polite reminder calls from the medical entity's billing department.

As the Bill Becomes More Stagnant

Somewhere around the 180-day mark of the original due date, the initial medical provider or hospital may seek the aid of a collections agency or sell the debt altogether to minimize their loss.

And the Saturation of Harassment Begins

Now you can expect your phone to start ringing and your mailbox to be busy. Collection agencies are notorious for being pushy. Why? They are in business to make money. How? They buy your debt for pennies on the dollar in the hopes they can get you to pay the total amount due plus interest. And now you must deal with them.

Note, though, that you always have the right to dispute your medical bill, whether directly with the medical provider or with a debt collector, once it has taken over. It is best to do so in writing through a dispute letter to the debt collector or medical provider.

Will a Debt Collector Take You to Court Over a Medical Bill?

They could. The collection agency has the right to sue for the amount owed. But most will hold off on debt less than $5,000. No matter how much you owe, if you are slapped with a lawsuit in small claims or civil court, it is in your best interest to appear.

Failure to do so will almost inevitably allow the agency to garnish your wages or apply a bank account levy to collect from your account. But a debt collector cannot take funds from a government-issued stimulus check.

What Could Happen if You Don't Pay?

Every state has a different statute of limitations in which debt collectors can pursue payment through the legal system. That statute may have other time limits depending upon whether the bill is an open-ended account, which applies here, or a written contract, oral contract, or promissory note. Examples for deadlines to pursue open-ended accounts include:

  • California – four years
  • New York – six years
  • Florida – four years
  • Ohio – six years
  • North Carolina and South Carolina – three years
  • Pennsylvania – 10 years

If you have not paid and the collection agency has not sued you in that time, it no longer has a way to enforce your payment. Realize, though, that not paying your debt could raise havoc with your credit rating.

If the Statute of Limitations Runs Out, Will Collectors Stop Harassing You?

In some states, the amount of time to pursue debt runs out with the time in which a lawsuit can be filed. But there is no restriction for the agency to call off its operators in other states. They can continue to harass you for payment even though the company no longer has any legal standing.

In such cases, you can terminate those phone calls through a formal written request sent by certified mail.

Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, it is against the law for a debt collector to use abusive, deceptive, or unfair practices to collect a debt from you. Should you have any trouble with a debt collector, you can submit a complaint the following ways:

OnlineConsumer Financial Protection Bureau  (CFPB)
CFPB Phone(855) 411-CFPB (2372)
Through your state’s attorney generalNational Association of Attorneys General

Can You Negotiate With a Debt Collector on Your Own?

It can be easier to negotiate with a collection agency than the original medical service provider. Experts recommend you offer around 30% of the balance you owe. You can expect a counteroffer at a higher percentage, allowing for payments over time.

Negotiating works best through written communication. That way, you have a "paper trail" of who said what and when. This could involve a lot of letter-writing, and if you are not a professional, it could be difficult for you. Instead, you could:

  1. Hire a secretarial service experienced with professional letter writing, although you still need to provide the appropriate documentation and visit the post office to mail your certified letters.
  2. Hire an attorney, but that could cost a lot of money and take time.
  3. Use DoNotPay.

DoNotPay Can Negotiate With Your Medical Debt Collector for You

The DoNotPay app can take care of your negotiations and save you time, frustration, and anguish.

All you need to do is:

  1. Search "debt collection" on DoNotPay.

     

  2. Answer a series of questions about the debt collectors, including when you were contacted and how you were contacted, so we can determine if they have violated any debt collection laws.

     

  3. Decide which course of action you want to take based on our guidance, such as filing a debt verification request, demanding for the collectors to stop contacting you, or reporting them to the CFPB.

     

DoNotPay takes care of the rest by mailing your request. It can also file a complaint to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for unfair debt collection practices.

DoNotPay offers other credit products, including asking for a Credit Line Increase or Cleaning Up Your Credit Report.

There Is a Lot More to DoNotPay

DoNotPay can help you deal with debt collection and clean up your credit, but this one little app is far more powerful. Look for DoNotPay to help you through legal tasks and other issues such as:

And much, much more. Have a look around the DoNotPay website and see how much time and money DoNotPay can save you. You will want to use DoNotPay for services regularly.

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