Hospital bill balance

by Michele
(South Bend, IN)

I live in South Bend, Indiana. I recently had major spine surgery. I have good insurance and they are paying 80% of the hospital bill, however that still leaves close to $5,000.00 in patient balance for me. I contacted the hospital and told them I could pay at least $100.00 a month, and probably twice that if not more, but didn't want to overcommit. I told them I will do everything I possibly can to pay this off asap. They told me: "You have 3 months to pay off the balance or you will be sent to collections". My question is this: Can they do that? and if they do, what exactly does that mean?

Comments for Hospital bill balance

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Sep 19, 2015
wife responsibility
by: Anonymous

If my wife signed no papers prior to my hospitalization can she be held responsible? I'm on ssdi.

Reply from

It depends. Do you live in a community property state? Then likely yes. And in some states spouses can be held responsible for each other's necessary bills. Unfortunately we don't have a comprehensive list of those. It may make sense for you to consult with a consumer law attorney or Legal Aid to find out.

May 30, 2012
Hospital bill balance

We hear from so many consumers who are in your exact same situation. Many hospitals have gotten much more aggressive with patients when they owe them money. Yes, some hospitals are willing to work out payment plans with patients, but not every hospital will do that (or can afford to). In your case, I expect that the hospital was unwilling to accept the plan that you proposed because at $100 month, it was going to take years for you to pay what you owe and it probably wants its money faster than that.

If your debt is sent to a debt collector, a couple things will happen. First, that information will damage your credit histories and stay in those histories for 7 years. Second, you can expect that the collector will begin contacting you about the money you owe. It may or may not be willing to negotiate a payment plan with you, but if it's willing, it will probably want you to pay more than $100/month. Eventually, if you do not pay your debt you may be threatened with a lawsuit and if you are sued and lose, the collector will ask the court's permission to collect what you owe by garnishing your wages, taking money from your bank account, taking an asset you own or putting a lien on one of your assets. The lawsuit will also show up in your credit histories.

If the collector won't agree to a payment plan or if the amount it wants you to pay each month is more than you can afford, another possible option is to try to settle your debt, which would involve getting the collector to agree to let you pay it off for less than what you owe on it. You would have to pay the settlement amount in a lump sum however. Listen to our debt settlement podcast if you want to find out more about settlement.

A third and final option is to file for bankruptcy. Bankruptcy would stop all collection actions against you, including a lawsuit. Whether you should file is something you should decide with the help of a bankruptcy attorney however, because bankruptcy is complicated and there are lots of factors to take into account. Also, a bankruptcy attorney may be able to figure out a way for you to avoid filing. Go here for a FREE initial evaluation with a bankruptcy attorney. And go here for some basic information on how to file for bankruptcy.

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