Can a hospital wait 5 years to turn a bill in to a collection agency?

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Can a hospital wait 5 years to turn a bill in to a collection agency?

I received a call from a collection agency on a bill for $186 for lab work performed in 2006. I have not received any bill or a call form the hospital on this bill. I do have health insurance.

Asked on February 23, 2011 under Bankruptcy Law, West Virginia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, it appears that the hospital can do this. First, whether you have health insurance or not, you are responsible for the costs of medical care--though if your insurer has not paid they were suppposed to, you may have recourse against the insurer to seek reimbursement. Second, in terms of debts like this, the creditor--in this case, the hospital--may take action on the debt any time within the "statute of limitations," or time to sue (if necessary). In West Virginia, the SOL on written contracts--and this would almost certainly be treated as a written contract--is 10 years (the SOL on oral or verbal contracts is 5 years). That means that at any time within the SOL, collections action may be taken against you. If you have health insurace, you should contact your insurer--or more correctly, you insurer in 2006, when the work was done--about this.


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