collection agencies for medical bills legal

by maria
(richmond, texas)

I was under the impression that as long as you are making monthly payments to a hospital or medical provider, the bill cannot go to a collection agency and affect your credit. Is it legal?

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Feb 20, 2012
collection agencies for medical bills legal

No, that is not true, although it is a common misconception. What the medical provider did is perfectly legal.

When you incur medical debt, you are obligated to pay it in full once you are billed for it. You are not entitled to decide on your own that you would like to pay it over time and how much you will pay each month. If you do, the medical provider will do what has happened to you -- turn your debt over to a collection agency.

To avoid having that happen, you should have contacted the provider when you first received your medical bill to find out if you could set up a payment plan and if the provider was open to that option, the two of you would have had to come to an agreement about how much your monthly payments would be. Assuming you were able to reach an agreement, you would be obligated to comply with all of the terms of the agreement. If you did not, then your debt would probably be sent to a collection agency. If you tried to reach an agreement with the provider but were not able to, you would be expected to pay your debt in full immediately.

Now that your debt is with a collection agency, you can try to work out a payment plan with it. Another option is to talk to the agency about settling your debt. When you settle a debt, you satisfy the debt in full by paying less than you owe on it. However, you usually have to pay the settlement amount in one lump sum.

If you work out a payment plan or a settlement with the collection agency, be sure to get all of the terms of the agreement in writing before you pay any money.

Go here for additional information on unpaid medical debt medical debt collection.

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