medical bill should be covered by charity care

by Jessica
(New Jersey)

I wasa 20 year old female with a part time job and no health insurance when I needed emergency room care. In May of 2011, I sent to the emergency room and told the admission people I had no insurance. They said if I bring in copies of my pay stubs to prove an income level, they could bill this as charity care in the state of new jersey. I gave them everything they ask for, but still received bills from the hospital for about $1,250. I sent 2 letters to the President of the hospital in May of 2012 and June of 2012 asking if this has been billed to the charity care and to send me a copy of the response from that bill. I never got a response and now it is in collections. Am I responsible or should the hospital bill this to charity care? Needless to say, this is now on my credit report.

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Aug 17, 2012
medical bill should be covered by charity care


I am not sure that there is an easy answer to your problem. I guess I would begin by calling the billing department of the hospital where you were treated to explain your situation and to see if they are willing to bill the cost of your care to "charity care" now and get the negative information about your medical bill removed from your credit histories. There is no guarantee that they will, but it's certainly worth a try. If you strike out with them, you might set up an appointment with a consumer law attorney who helps consumers resolve their debt collection problems. The attorney may have more success with the hospital that you did. Your first appointment should be free.

Another option if neither of my first two suggestions work out, is to schedule a free initial evaluation with a bankruptcy attorney. If the amount of money you owe is substantial and you have no way of paying it, filing for bankruptcy could be a good option for you. However, you need a bankruptcy attorney to tell you if it is or not.

Other options include trying to settle the debt, which involves paying it off for less than the full amount; but if your outstanding debt is very large, the collector may not agree to settlement amount that you can afford. For information about how to settle a debt, listen to this debt settlement podcast.

You may have a similar problem with another option -- paying the debt over time. You would need to work out an installment payment plan with the collector, but if you cannot afford to make large enough monthly payments so that you get the debt paid off relatively quickly, the collector probably won't agree to a plan. An important note: If you do negotiate a debt repayment plan or a settlement, get everything in writing related to your agreement before you pay any money.

It's important that you get the debt resolved one way or another because if you don't, you risk being sued for the money, which will only add to your problems. Not only will being sued cost you money, but the lawsuit may end in a judgment against you, which would badly damage your credit history.

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