How can I negotiate a 9,000 medical bill

by Erick
(San Francisco)

I involuntary took a ambulance to the general hospital in San Francisco about a year ago and was only billed for the hospital stay and not the abulance (I thought the initial bill that was about 1,000 covered the ambulance ride too) A year later I am getting calls from the State saying that I owe 9,000 for the ambulance. I am a recent graduate who was working for minimum wage and recently got laid off. I cant afford to pay 9,000 as I have no assets at all. No saving, no car, no house no nothing. What are my option?

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Aug 27, 2013
$9,000.00 Unsecured Medical Bill Wipeout
by: Anonymous

$9,000.00 for an ambulance fee is an exorbitant amount of debt for a recent college graduate; or for that matter for anyone. If, upon your thorough investigation, the debt is deemed to be legitimate, a chapter 7 bankruptcy would be, in my opinion, the best option to discharge that debt. Yes, it stays on your credit for 7 yrs; however, you most certainly will have a fresh start, and be able to re-establish credit within 3 months..being offered a credit card, and in some cases financing a new car, etc. Just be sure to be diligent with making timely monthly payments to rebuild your credit.

Jun 18, 2012
How can I negotiate a 9,000 medical bill

The first thing I would do is ask for a copy of the ambulance bill. $9,000 for a ride to the hospital seems excessive. Also, not clear why the State of CA would be contacting you about the debt and not the ambulance company itself.

Put your request for a copy of the bill in writing and mail it via certified mail with a return receipt requested. Once you receive a copy of the bill, contact the sender if you have any questions about it.

If the charges on the bill seem correct, you have a couple options, although neither option provides you with an easy answer to your problem.

One option is to do nothing because it sounds like you are judgment proof. In other words, if you are sued for the debt and the creditor wins a judgment against you, it won't be able to collect on the judgment because you have nothing for it to take. However, if there is a judgment against you, once you are employed, the creditor with the judgment could get the court's permission to garnish your wages, so despite your current situation, you are really not off the hook for your debt. Also, the judgment will show up in your credit histories and will be a strike against you when you are applying for jobs, a place to live, credit or insurance.

Another option is to file for bankruptcy, which will allow you to wipe out all of the medical debt. However, the bankruptcy will also show up in your credit histories and work against you.

Before you decide what to do, I recommend that you read our article on medical debt collection. If you scroll down to the bottom on the page, you'll find some suggestions for dealing with your unpaid bill. Perhaps one or more of them will work for you.

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