Medical Bill was Sent to Collections While I was Making Monthly Payments

by Teresa
(Dallas, TX)

I live in Dallas, Texas and I had a radiology bill sent to collections while I was making monthly payments. I told the representative I had other medical bills I was paying on, in the process of moving to another state b/c I was getting married and my fiance (who is in military) was just relocated- In essence all costing money out of our pockets. The rep stated I had to make a payment plan of 25 dollars or more, and that 10 dollars would not be enough. I told her I could only afford that and would pay more and quicker when other expenses were paid off. She stated they couldn't wait, and would send it to collections. Is that legal?

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Oct 21, 2012
Maybe you need to do some research
by: Anonymous

The above comment suggesting a creditor can send you to collections at any time even while paying is not the case.

Specifically, in regard to medical billing there are state laws that apply when it comes to this process. There is also the newly AHA billings and collections guidelines adopted in may of 2012 that make it clear that the hospital is to address the patients financial needs in a more respectful manner other than saying pay this amount or off to collections you go. The hospital is obligated to clearly offer applications to anyone showing a financial problem. The patient is not the one who needs to ask for this it is the hospital that needs to address this. The hospital is also under the obligation of RESPECTFULLY coordinating payment procedures with the patient BEFORE applying extreme collection measures.

Yes in this situation someone from the hospital told her they would send her to collections but the manner in which the patient suggests it happened doesn't meet the standard. Allegedly someone told the patient... GIVE US this amount of money each month OR ELSE. She expressed a need to go lower and nothing was applied. They then took her money knowing they'd eventually write her off and send her to collections.

The real advice.. Get a good consumer lawyer. Did the hospital at any time during registration etc.. ever address your choices with billing other than give them what they want or they'd destroy your credit.

I can't say this enough when giving advice on medical debt. It's simply not the same type of credit where the consumer is given a choice of service. In a time of health crisis you are handed no alternatives financially. This wasn't an elected bill thought out against your daily budget. The consumer in regard to medical cost is to be treated with utmost respect and listened to very carefully when it comes to what they can afford. Hospitals are funded and covered. If you can honestly prove that 10.00 is all you could afford then chances are that same hospital knows you can get all kinds of cuts in the over all cost and may not even owe a penny or the cut may be so good that a 10.00 payment would pay off the remaining balance in 24 months.

Reply from

Thanks for pointing out the provisions in the Affordable Care Act that do provide some new consumer protections. Those are new protections, and they only apply to patients at nonprofit hospitals, but they should help at least some patients.

With regard to your other comment about state consumer protections in the case of medical bills, we would be very interested in seeing some sources on that. We've done extensive research and spoken with a number of healthcare billing experts but we haven't come across the kinds of protections you are describing. Do let us know if there's a resource we can take a look at and share with our readers!

May 13, 2012
Medical Bill was Sent to Collections While I was Making Monthly Payments

Yes, it is legal. A creditor can send your debt to collections anytime when you owe it money, even if you are paying a little on the debt every month. The issue is that the full amount of your radiology bill was due once you incurred it and therefore, you were not entitled to decide for yourself that you would pay the bill over time as you have been doing.

What you should have done immediately was to contact the radiologist's office to let it know that you wanted to set up a payment plan and if the office agreed to discuss such a plan (It's not obligated to.) you and the office would have tried to reach an understanding about the terms and amount of your monthly payments. Note: Whenever you set up a monthly payment plan with a creditor or with a debt collector, always get the terms of the agreement in writing before you begin paying on the plan.

Now that your debt is in collections, you can try to negotiate a payment plan with the collection agency. If you are unable to come to an agreement with one another, you risk being sued for the money you owe however. Good luck!

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