Question

Medical bill - What happens if i just don't pay?

My wife went to the emergency room. We have insurance with a high co-pay. We own a home and don't plan on buying another one any time soon. We have enough cash to pay the bill, some in my wifes name. I believe that the law is that a creditor can only force you into bankruptcy if you are delinquent on debts totaling around $11,000. the bill will be under $11k. My questions are 1 - If we just don't pay I know that it will show up on her credit, but what else will happen? will they sue or will it just go away in 7 years? 2- my credit is great - will it hurt my credit score if they charge it to her? (If you are wondering why I am thinking of not paying it is because I am FED UP with this crappy system. I'm not rich but I work hard and try to save + provide for my sick wife who cant work. It seems that people like me bear all the costs of the system in high taxes/insurance, and we get to pay for all the living expenses of everyone with a hand out to the govt.)

7 years ago - 13 answers

Best Answer

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You will end up in collections. This can effect your credit.

Just call and try to make a payment plan. Most facilities will allow you to make payments that are comfortable for you. Something is better than nothing.

Source(s):

7 years ago

Other Answers

hospital bills do not show up on credit reports. They will keep bugging you and bugging you and bugging you for payment but in my experience they do not show up on credit reports. If you can not afford to pay the bill explain that to them. They will probably offer payment plans etc. etc. but do what you think is best for you. I truly couldn't afford to pay my bill and kept telling them. everytime they wrote asking for payment I explained I needed to eat, pay rent, etc. and could not afford any payment to them. Eventually they wrote me and told me that because I had nicely explained my situation to them numerous times, they decided to foot the bill themselves and if I ever found myself in position to pay them, do so otherwise consider it payed. It took 2 years of us writting back and forth but they foot the bill and it never showed up on my credit report

by 'lil peanut - 7 years ago

they will contact you every day and threaten you. if you need to go to the hospital again, they won't treat you.

by Jedi Council - 7 years ago

A lien can be attached to your property and yes they can sue,I have even heard of judgments being granted and saving or checking accounts being wiped out.Pay them a little bit each month and they can"t do anything to you.And yes they do show up on your credit because they turn them over to collections.And the person that said a hospital will not treat you because you owe them money is wrong,it is the law,no one can be refused medical treatment in a hospital.

by ann e - 7 years ago

depends on what state i think... most dont report to credit bureaus, but they can keep calling you in an attempt to collect on a debt... the 7 years part - that says that 7 years AFTER the debt is paid - it has to be taken off... if you never pay it, it never comes off. my suggestion? if you dont really have enough money to pay them - call and speak to the billing to find out how to apply for their low income assistance - that will either pay alot of the bill or set up a payment plan so you dont have to be hassled

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by unimatrix_42 - 7 years ago

Well Jeff I am sure that 100% of us can relate to your situation. The hospital will continue to send you bills and harrassing letters and such. They will call and all the usual stuff. They will eventually send it to collections but it will take a few years before they do this because the hospital does not want to pay a collection agency to do what their accounting department is supposed to do. I can tell you from experience that if you choose to pay them $1.00 a month or .50 a month there is nothing they can do except take it, if they refuse then that is their fault. What worries me about this situation and I do sympathize with you more than you will ever know, is that what if your wife needs to go back to the emergency room again. Of course they cannot refuse her treatment but they will tell you that you must pay a certain amount before she can be seen. THIS IS NOT TRUE!!! No health care can be denied based on the ability of the patient to pay or not to pay. I just hate to see you all go through all of this in a time when she may need treatment and both of your stress levels are high. By paying a $1.00 a month or even every other month, you sort get them back and pay the bill too. I know that is childish but sometimes working out your frustrations in a positive way is best. I do wish you and your wife the very best and I hope that things work out for you. God bless!!

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by Cindy Roo - 7 years ago

I would advise you to wait and see how much the bill is before worrying about it so much. Since you have insurance, even with a high co-pay, it can't be that high, and a lot of hospitals and doctors discount the part of the bill that insurance doesn't pay. When you get the bill, if it's too much, call the billing department and ask to arrange monthly payments. They are interest free and will usually settle for an amount you can afford to pay monthly.

I agree with you that the system isn't perfect, but not paying the bill is not the way to protest the system. And yes, they will sue you and mess up both your and your wife's credit rating. If you had work done on your car, you wouldn't think of just not paying for it, even when it's crappy that your car breaks down two months in a row.

You might also want to talk with a social worker at your local social security office. If your wife is sick and can't work she may be eligible for Social Security Disability. I think that would make her eligible for Medicare Healthcare also.

Instead of being angry about the government helping the poor, be glad that you are not in their situation. Maybe I shouldn't say that to you right now, but sometimes a change in attitude can make life a lot easier. It's hard to enjoy anything you have when you're angry. Good luck to you and your wife.

by SARAH G - 7 years ago

I'm sorry for your situation but, if you run from the bill your are being part of the problem instead of part of the solution. Meaning it's because of people like (pardon me for saying this) you that are running from paying their/your bill that is raising the cost of our health insurance.

Where do you think the cost of your bill goes to, who do you
think will pay that, it doesn't just go away and the health fairy doesn't pay it for you??? No it will be the poor suckers that do pay their health care payments, that's who is going to pay and pay and pay for it . Talk with the hospital and make arrangements to pay it.

Take a loan from the house that your OWN and pay your own d*** bill, step up to the plate. You chose not to pay the co-pay, maybe you should just pay the dang co-pay and then entire thing will be over with. Put the co-pay on your credit card like the rest of us fools have had to do some times. Borrow from your parents and tell them you will make payments to them @ each pay check. Then you can pay the co-pay and it will be over.

Every one hates higher rates so we must all do better to do our part to not skip out of paying our own way. Don't reach into others pockets by not paying you bill, because you make it harder on eveyone including your self.

It's time to wake up and wise up and even grow up. It's hard for every one, do your part to be part of the solution and not part of the problem.

Think about it before you screw others and even your self. Good luck.....to all of us as we may all need it!!!

Then you can stop complaining about yours self too, because you just said your tired of our crappy system, where people have their hands out. Every one works hard that works so why screw up every one elses life by making their payments rise because you want to run from the bill. Don't think I'm making light of your situation but hey, we have all had it rough at times. But I never have run from paying a medical bill in may life, I have always found a way to pay my own way. So I feel like I have room to speak here, because I have paid my own way.

My heart does go out to you and your family though, I want you to know that as it is hard in this world. You and your family are in my prayers.

God Bless you all, take care!

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by Cindy - 7 years ago

You asked them to provide a service, and that's what they did.

They're interested in getting paid, not hearing your political views.

For future non-emergency care you could end up having to pay in advance. because . would a provider want to get stiffed???

Think about paying, but if you think its excessive, call & see if you can negtiate, and accept the fact that, "that's the way it is.".

by senatorflexijerkoff - 7 years ago

i'm pretty sure that you can get reported to a collections agency.

by smileco2004 - 7 years ago

If you don't pay the bill, the hospital may send it out to a collection agency, who will call and write letters, and put it on your credit report. The hospital can't deny treatment to you in an emergency. They can make you agree to pay for things yourself it you don't have any kind of coverage, and or what the ins doesn't pay. And the the cycle will continue. You owe money, you can't pay, you go to the hospital, you get treament, you get a bill in the mail, you can't pay, it goes to collections, you go to the hosptial again. Before the 7 years are up, the collection agency might sell the debt to another collection agency, keeping it technically fresh, with the 7 years interest added.
I am still years behind. But our family eats. We chip away at one bill and another comes.

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by ralph - 7 years ago

If you don't plan to pay I would suggest you find out what the judgment expemption statutes are for your state and take steps to protect what isn't covered under the exemption statutes. (even if you have to put an uninvolved third party, that you trust on your assets, along with your names) If you plan to do that, you would need to do it before a suit is filed or they will get you for hiding assets. Or you could check out trusts, where you and your wife put each other into a trust on your assets.

Before you start moving things around, check the exemption statutes, check with the hospital and see if you are responsible along with your wife, check with the hospital to see how much the co-pay is and if the hospital will work with you on lowering the amount (sometimes they will) or if they will take payments.

If you signed anything at the hospital, you can be sure that they will hold you responsible for the bill along with your wife.

If the hospital holds both of you responsible and a suit is filed, it would be harder to protect your assets. If the hospital only holds your wife responsible and everything is either in your name only or in both your names, they generally cannot seize it. (depends on state exemption statutes)

If your state allows wage garnishment, they will probably garnish unless you can prove to the court that a garnishment would be a hardship.

Many times hospitals themselves will not sue, they generally (and usually quickly) turn the account over to a collection agency. They "can" report the account on yours and/or your wifes credit reports, they have to code it so it will not show what the services were for.

As far as suing, a lot would depend on the collection agency and the amount of the debt. Some collection agencies are fairly sue happy especially if the amount of the debt is pretty large.

I agree with your rant. I think the insurance laws stink and that the hospitals are allowed to get away with overcharging for everything. (insurance, hospitals and the departments that govern them..... ahhh aren't kickbacks wonderful - not)

by echo - 7 years ago

My wife went to the emergency room with what she thought was a broken ankle. It turned out to be a bad sprain. We were three days away from her new insurance starting so we got landed with a bill for $1,400. However, when we checked into the Emergency Room I asked for a quote, and they said that X-rays and a consultation would be $400 total. We felt that was okay, but as usual with the corrupt and greedy system in the US, they added on another grand by the time the final bill came. We disputed it with them and they refused to budge or negotiate with us in any way. They started sending threatening letters.

So my wife took them to small claims and sued them. We represented ourselves and the hospital sent a lawyer and an expert witness to testify against us. The judge found in our favor that we were quoted a specific fee for services, and the bill was not consistent with that quote.

It took the hospital four months after the judgment to accept defeat and issue us a refund check, which included the $150 it cost to file the claim. Even after the judgment they reported us to a debt collection agency claiming we still owed them money.

After I wrote them a letter threatening to re-sue them they relented, and complied with the legal judgment we had obtained against them.

So the moral of the story is to always ask for a quote for service if you are in a position to. It may come in handy in the future if they try and stick it to you.

As to some other comments I've been reading. Medical bills DO show up on your credit and will affect your score. Although generally lenders don't really care much about them. So it is unlikely to affect you borrowing money in future.

If you simply don't pay a medical bill they will NOT refuse future emergency treatment as that would be illegal.

However, what they will do is eventually turn the debt over to a debt collection agency, who will hound you for the money. You will eventually get sued and if they win, they will have a judgment against you. If you fail to pay the judgment they could apply for a garnishment of your wages. It is highly unlikely that you will be forced into bankruptcy, but it is quite possible that after months of harassing letters and calls, they will simply obtain the legal right to garnish your wages until the debt is paid off.

There is a new movie coming out this year called Sicko. It is about the terrible state of the health care system in America. Hopefully this documentary will expose people to the facts about the big health care rip off in the US. In the richest country in the world there are 47,000,000 Americans with no proper coverage. Millions more who are under-insured. But to add insult to injury Americans pay just over $5,000 per capita which is nearly double most over countries in the world, yet our system is far less inclusive. We are spending the money, yet it seems to vanish into a large corporate black hole, and people like you get screwed.

I really hope the health care system gets a complete overhaul. It is definitely in need of one.

But all that said, you need to make arrangements to pay off your medical bills. Even if it is in installments. They won't just go away. But if you make a fuss and talk to the right people, they may give you a bit of a discount. Medical corporations have a nice little scam going, they don't want adverse publicity. So sometimes if you make enough fuss, they will make a more palatable arrangement with you.

Good luck.

Source(s)

by ZCT - 7 years ago