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

Posted by on Jul. 31, 2013 at 5:11 PM
  • 16 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 5:11 PM
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Replies (1-10):
snowangel1979
by on Jul. 31, 2013 at 5:33 PM
What do they mean they are charging you an additional $200+ on top of the bill.

That almost sounds like a scam. They think your just going to pay all this money over the phone without a letter or proff of who they actually are. I would maybe call the hospital and see if you actually owe any money. Did you ever even get a hospital bill from 2010?

The It's not on your credit is b.s. if you owe the money, It's already on there. Also there's a loop hole that you have to watch out for, if you admit to owing the money, it can stay on there. If and when you have the money ask what the pay off is? You can usually get it for about 1/2 of what the bill is. Make sure you get it in writing though and you have to be able to mail that amount to them ASAP..

If you do accidentally answer it again, don't give them any info such as where you work, just hang up. They can not garish your wages without your permission or a court order. Don't let them trick you into giving them permission. All contact can and should be done by mail to protect yourself.

They can take you to court for medical bills but for $1,000 probably not. There not going to waste there time.
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OHgirlinCA
by on Jul. 31, 2013 at 5:38 PM

 What they are doing is called harassment and by law they cannot do so.  That said, yes, you can be sued for not paying a hospital bill.  It is a debt you owe afterall.  Here is a link that may answer some questions for you:

http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0149-debt-collection

babygirl7161
by on Jul. 31, 2013 at 5:45 PM
4 moms liked this
Well as an ER employee let me just says its pretty shitty of you to just not pay and ignore it, and I despise people who come to the just because they don't have to pay up front. Be an adult and contact the financial advisers at the hospital and apply for charity care at least. Sorry but you hit a sore spot for me. And even if they can't take you to court, I think you should be held accountable for your bill.
ReadWriteLuv
by on Jul. 31, 2013 at 6:01 PM
2 moms liked this

Yes, they can do that. And they will. 

I ran into trouble a few years back while unemployed after we moved. I had to choose between eating and keeping the utilities on, and paying my credit cards. Obviously I let the cards go. They went to collections. About 6 months from the date I would have hit the limit of the statute of limitations in my state they came after me, one at a time. The first company did, indeed, file papers through the county court to sue me for the amount owed plus legal fees. I called them and agreed to settle, but I had to fork over the full amount plus $200  in legal fees. After I paid the first one, the second came after me, same deal. They agreed to a payment plan where I would give them a set amount each payday, over 4 payday. 

If they won't agree to settle, (something similar happened to my sister and Capitol One refused to settle with her), your best bet is to let it go to court and show up for your court date and explain your situation and beg for leniency. With any luck they won't show up and the case will be thrown out.

That said, I agree with the PP, as a healthcare worker, it's pretty scrappy not to pay an ER Bill. This is why public hospitals are failing and reducing staff and services.

ReadWriteLuv
by on Jul. 31, 2013 at 6:02 PM


Quoting babygirl7161:

Well as an ER employee let me just says its pretty shitty of you to just not pay and ignore it, and I despise people who come to the just because they don't have to pay up front. Be an adult and contact the financial advisers at the hospital and apply for charity care at least. Sorry but you hit a sore spot for me. And even if they can't take you to court, I think you should be held accountable for your bill.

If it's gone to collections she can't do anything through the hospital, they've written off her debt and eaten the loss, the collection agency owns her debt now.

clairewait
by on Jul. 31, 2013 at 6:20 PM
1 mom liked this
Quoting snowangel1979:

What do they mean they are charging you an additional $200+ on top of the bill.

That almost sounds like a scam. 

This is a debt collection agency. They bought the debt from the hospital. And no, it is not a scam. This is pretty typical, and actually a really reasonable fee for a 3 year old debt.


Quoting snowangel1979:

The It's not on your credit is b.s. if you owe the money, It's already on there. 

This is true.

Quoting snowangel1979:

They can take you to court for medical bills but for $1,000 probably not. There not going to waste there time.

Unfortunately, this is not true. Debt collection agencies have entire groups of people who do nothing but take people like you (original poster) to small claims court.

Pay your bill. (I'll tack on the sentiment of a previous poster, without using the word shitty.) If you had paid it on time, or worked with the hospital to get on a payment plan, you could have avoided this fee. Again, it is a reasonable fee, and they probably will take you to court for it, where you will most certainly incure court costs.

Stop hanging up on the lady. Try to work with her.

Claire Wait

My blog: TheUnderToad.com

crwspringer
by Silver Member on Jul. 31, 2013 at 6:29 PM
First I would check with the hospital to make sure this debt collection agency is affiliated with them (there are companies who try to scam you into thinking you owe). The fact that they won't send you documation of the debt kind of raises a red flag with me.

If this is real, you better bet your patotie that they can do all that they say they are going to do. At this stage setting up a payment plan and sticking to it is your best bet.
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soymujer
by Gold Member on Jul. 31, 2013 at 6:34 PM

If you owe anyone anything and you don't pay, they can take you to court.  And you will be responsible for the court fees as well.  I've been taken to court and my wages garnished because of ignoring bills. Now, I pay what I can to each, be it $5 or $10.  As long as they are getting something, they won't sue you.

ReadWriteLuv
by on Jul. 31, 2013 at 6:37 PM

The two credit card companies that sued me each did so for a balance around $1000. I figured my balances were too small and not worth the effort to sue. Truth is, if you are within a year of hitting your statute of limitations they will go after you for any amount plus legal fees.

Quoting snowangel1979:

What do they mean they are charging you an additional $200+ on top of the bill.

That almost sounds like a scam. They think your just going to pay all this money over the phone without a letter or proff of who they actually are. I would maybe call the hospital and see if you actually owe any money. Did you ever even get a hospital bill from 2010?

The It's not on your credit is b.s. if you owe the money, It's already on there. Also there's a loop hole that you have to watch out for, if you admit to owing the money, it can stay on there. If and when you have the money ask what the pay off is? You can usually get it for about 1/2 of what the bill is. Make sure you get it in writing though and you have to be able to mail that amount to them ASAP..

If you do accidentally answer it again, don't give them any info such as where you work, just hang up. They can not garish your wages without your permission or a court order. Don't let them trick you into giving them permission. All contact can and should be done by mail to protect yourself.

They can take you to court for medical bills but for $1,000 probably not. There not going to waste there time.


snowangel1979
by on Jul. 31, 2013 at 6:47 PM
Maybe It's different in every state. Here they sell your debt but the debt company can only go after what the original bill amount is for. So, the original debt owner losses that difference.

I always say do everything by mail because I was almost scammed by someone. IDK if they got into the hospitals files or what. I had a "collection agency" calling me non-stop. Demanding I make a payment over the phone, threatening me, ect over a hospital visit 4 years prior.

Problem was, I didn't owe the debt. I called the hospital and I had one unpaid bill but it was pending threw my insurance (and not close to the same date, just a doctor's visit) and it was a lot lower then the amount the people calling wanted.


Quoting clairewait:

Quoting snowangel1979:

What do they mean they are charging you an additional $200+ on top of the bill.

That almost sounds like a scam. 

This is a debt collection agency. They bought the debt from the hospital. And no, it is not a scam. This is pretty typical, and actually a really reasonable fee for a 3 year old debt.



Quoting snowangel1979:

The It's not on your credit is b.s. if you owe the money, It's already on there. 

This is true.

Quoting snowangel1979:

They can take you to court for medical bills but for $1,000 probably not. There not going to waste there time.

Unfortunately, this is not true. Debt collection agencies have entire groups of people who do nothing but take people like you (original poster) to small claims court.

Pay your bill. (I'll tack on the sentiment of a previous poster, without using the word shitty.) If you had paid it on time, or worked with the hospital to get on a payment plan, you could have avoided this fee. Again, it is a reasonable fee, and they probably will take you to court for it, where you will most certainly incure court costs.

Stop hanging up on the lady. Try to work with her.


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