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Can you be taken to court for unpaid ER bills? PIOG

Posted by on Jul. 31, 2013 at 5:13 PM
  • 10 Replies



Can you?  In the last week I have received 1-2 phone calls a day from a debt collector and just received a letter/statement in the mail this week. I generally don't answer phone numbers that I don't recognize, but I thought it was a friend of mine. The lady goes on to tell me that she's calling on behalf of this company for an ER visit I have January of 2010. Why haven't I paid? Why haven't I contacted them? I do my best not to get upset, but this lady was nasty. She went on to tell me that she was going to contact my employer to verify my employment - um - no you're not! I work for family and they aren't going to tell you jack!!! I also told her that they weren't going to garnish my wages like they think they can so there wasn't any reason to call my job. She said something and I lost it. She told me that they could take me to court and I would have to pay all of the court fees and so on. That as of right now this isn't on my credit but will be. I ended up hanging up on her.

They are charging an additional $222 on top of the $888 that the hospital originally charged me. I asked for a document in the mail, she tells me "No. I'm not sending you anything in the mail that's going to cost us money. I can email it." Fine!! I waited for over an hour and nothing so I called the place back from the number she called me from. A new lady says that the first lady wasn't allowed to send it after she talked to the supervisor - it's on hold - they're going to send a letter and the supervisor is going to send a letter to my email. Whatever. I talked to a few people and none of them have been taken to court or anything over unpaid medical bills. I have been to the ER 3 times in the last 6 years with no insurance (while I was pregnant I was on Medicaid and went three times all pregnancy related) and they were for things that I couldn't wait until a walk-in doctor opened or until I could find an affordable doctor that I could pay out of pocket.

I've been ignoring the phone calls - I added them to my contact list so that I don't accidentally answer it. I feel bad, sure, but so many things have happened over the years and I've honestly forgotten about it. Now for me to attempt to pay $10 a week even is a lot. By now the hospital and staff has already been paid for this bill - so I'm tempted to just keep ignoring it.


by on Jul. 31, 2013 at 5:13 PM
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Replies (1-10):
deccaf
by Group Admin on Jul. 31, 2013 at 5:40 PM

So, technically, yes, they can go to court and get a judgement on you.  If they actually will or not is different.  It costs time, money, etc.  If they get a judgement, they send that through (usually) the sheriff's office and they collect through your employer garnishing your check.  Some states do not allow this, check into your state's laws.  Since I work in payroll, I see a lot of these roll in.  If your employer (family) chooses to ignore the garnishment, they can get in trouble if they are required to garnish your wages.  If the visits were from 2010, they should fall off your report in about 3 1/2 years.  However, be aware that ignoring them could have consequences, too.  If the sheriff gets involved out here, they add a per check fee and interest and penalties until it's paid off.  The per check fee is $10 every time I send the garnished wages.  That is just added to the total the person owes.

illinoismommy83
by New Member on Jul. 31, 2013 at 5:41 PM

They could take you to court... but you could simply call the hospital billing dept and explain your finances. Hospitals are usually good at making payment plans of like $25-50 a month for years.

My best friend was uninsured between jobs and is paying off like $1400 in hospital bills at $25/month.

the3Rs
by Group Admin on Jul. 31, 2013 at 9:19 PM
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I'm sure they could, and I honestly can't fathom choosing to just ignore a debt you owe.
cjsmom1
by Platinum Member on Jul. 31, 2013 at 10:12 PM

Every state has different laws when it comes to paying off old debt. Look into what your state allows.

mistressflora
by on Jul. 31, 2013 at 10:16 PM

IN nys i know they cant, i thought that was a federal law as well, you are not obligated to pay er bills or any other medical bills....at least this was the last I knew of, I think if you set something up with a creaditor they can take you. I have a ton of er bills i never paID  back from when i was a teenager (18) and i never went to court, not only that i dont think they can go on your credit report! but, i could be wrong!

There is a big sign at my hospital in all the rooms that say "law says, you can not be refused medical attention, when it comes to going to the emergency room, child birth and labor, and any other medical emergencies"  I asked about that sign and the nurse told me it means that if you can not pay your bill, they can not refuse you and they can not hold it over you...idk if that means anything about court

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starsis68
by Member on Jul. 31, 2013 at 10:50 PM
My son had a er bill thay took him to court. He has to pay double. The moeny and thay take 1oo.oo a week out. Of his check my husband. Been in the hospital. A lot in the last 3 year I use to.send them 25 a moth but the last. 2 time he whent to the Hospital thay sayed I had to.pay 65 a moth It had to be payed off. Sooner then 25 a moth and he had insurance. That payed a most of it I wonder. If the new health. Bill changed things. About how you pay
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starsis68
by Member on Jul. 31, 2013 at 11:01 PM
When you do not have insurance. The will not give you the best of care. They. Try to get you in and out fast is what some people told me that works. In the fild


Quoting mistressflora:

IN nys i know they cant, i thought that was a federal law as well, you are not obligated to pay er bills or any other medical bills....at least this was the last I knew of, I think if you set something up with a creaditor they can take you. I have a ton of er bills i never paID  back from when i was a teenager (18) and i never went to court, not only that i dont think they can go on your credit report! but, i could be wrong!

There is a big sign at my hospital in all the rooms that say "law says, you can not be refused medical attention, when it comes to going to the emergency room, child birth and labor, and any other medical emergencies"  I asked about that sign and the nurse told me it means that if you can not pay your bill, they can not refuse you and they can not hold it over you...idk if that means anything about court


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mistressflora
by on Jul. 31, 2013 at 11:03 PM
well it didnt say anything about good care, it just said they couldnt refuse you, and I know this. I was just trying to answer the question about court!
Quoting starsis68:

When you do not have insurance. The will not give you the best of care. They. Try to get you in and out fast is what some people told me that works. In the fild


Quoting mistressflora:

IN nys i know they cant, i thought that was a federal law as well, you are not obligated to pay er bills or any other medical bills....at least this was the last I knew of, I think if you set something up with a creaditor they can take you. I have a ton of er bills i never paID  back from when i was a teenager (18) and i never went to court, not only that i dont think they can go on your credit report! but, i could be wrong!

There is a big sign at my hospital in all the rooms that say "law says, you can not be refused medical attention, when it comes to going to the emergency room, child birth and labor, and any other medical emergencies"  I asked about that sign and the nurse told me it means that if you can not pay your bill, they can not refuse you and they can not hold it over you...idk if that means anything about court


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Marti123
by Platinum Member on Jul. 31, 2013 at 11:41 PM
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Yes, they can, not sure if they will bother for that amount; it depends on the collection agency. You are really dealing with them, a collection business, NOT the hospital anymore and it is their their job to be mean, nasty, and scary and contact ANYBODY they can to "shake them down" to get any money they possibly can from you. It is how they make a profit.

I am sorry you were ill, and I am glad you are better. I have worked for many hospitals, and usually they are VERY lenient with payment schedules and forgiveness as long as you stay in contact with them.

But NO the hospital and provider WERE NOT PAID for your responsible portion of the visit, as you were unable to pay. This explains why institutions with high rates of uninsured close their doors frequently, or provide substandard care due to underpaid, understaffed employees or why a several good friends of mine were just terminated and now job hunting because the hospital budget is in the red due to such low reimbursement. Medical institutions try to compensate for such losses by charging triple the actual cost or even more to insured and other self-pay patients who might actually pay, but sometimes even charging $10 for a band-aid is not enough to re-coup their losses and be profitable. It is just a small example of why our healthcare system is broken, (many other reasons as well) and sadly with no viable solutions to actually fix the problem in the future.
orangerze
by Member on Aug. 1, 2013 at 8:57 AM
What that sign means is they can't refuse the care. They can't turn you away. They can and will try to get their money any way possible though...including court I'm some cases.
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