If you have medical debt, this thought might always be in the back of your mind. It can not happen unless you have not paid your medical bills for a very long time.
But, yes. A medical debt collector can sue you. If you do not pay the collection agency, they may file a lawsuit.
We will be covering what you want to know in this short article, so be sure to keep reading.
What Happens First
Before debt collectors can sue you, your medical bill has to be in collections. The medical debt collector will record this on your credit report, which harms your FICO score. Even if you are making the minimum monthly payments, the medical debt can still damage your score.
Even if you pay your bills on time with a medical debt settlement, the debt will still show up on your credit report. They stay seven years and 180 days from your first delinquency.
It can be difficult to avoid medical debt, especially after an emergency. Many Americans go through this every year- so be assured that you are not alone. The following are some steps you can take when a medical debt collector sues you.
What You Can Do
When a medical debt collector files a lawsuit against you, you should:
- Start by gathering all your important files and paperwork relating to the debt
- Answer the summons by the deadline given
- Contact a medical bill lawyer
- Work with them and ask them about how to prepare your defense
- Know minimum payment laws and debt collection laws
- Talk with your lawyer about how to negotiate and save you money
Taking those steps will help you feel more prepared for what is to come. Doing nothing will often make the situation worse.
If You are Unemployed
If you cannot pay your medical bills, there may be a few things you can do. Many hospitals offer financial assistance programs. You might also want to consider signing up for Medicaid or Medicare, if possible.
If none of those options work for you, there are charity groups and programs that might be able to help you pay your medical bills.
Why You Need a Medical Bill Lawyer
A medical bill lawyer is familiar with all of the laws surrounding this type of debt. If you feel overcharged for your hospital stay, they can help you dispute the cost.
It is better to have a professional lawyer to help you than dispute the claim on your own. The U.S. healthcare system is challenging to understand and made to be complicated. Medical bill lawyers study the laws surrounding it and will know exactly how to handle your case.
The lawyer can even assist you in settling your medical debt. They talk with collections and may be able to make a negotiation that works out for everyone.
How Medical Debt Collection is Different from Personal Debt
Medical bills are handled differently than personal statements that are sent to collection agencies. They do not hurt your score as much as other types of debts, although they still might make it hard to get credit later.
Medical debts have a grace period. It takes 180 days before they are listed on your credit reports. Having that extra time makes it easier to figure out your payment options.
Finally, the most noticeable difference is medical debts are removed from your credit report when you pay them off. Other types of collections will stay on your credit report for seven years. When your medical debt is left unpaid, it also stays around for seven years.
How to Deal with Medical Bills
Remember that when a collection agency contacts you, you have the right to ensure the debt is correct and the right to dispute it.
Next time you have to deal with medical bills, you should keep these tips in mind:
- Ask for proof of what you owe. Request a breakdown of the charges in writing.
- Compare those charges to your insurance receipts. Your EOB lets you know how much the provider charged and what your insurance covered. What your bill shows should not go over what your EOB said you owe.
- Make arrangements to pay ASAP.
To summarize, yes. Medical debt collectors can sue you. You will want to talk to a lawyer about your options; they will help you dispute the collector’s claims.