What is my legal obligation to medical debt collection?

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What is my legal obligation to medical debt collection?

I am paying many doctors and hospitals for debts over the last several years. The expense is more than I can cover. Now one is filing a suit against me. If I can not pay it, what can they do to me legally?

Asked on March 1, 2012 under Bankruptcy Law, Texas

Answers:

B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Medical debts are just like any other consumer debts... so anything that is permissible for a credit card debt works with medical debts.  If you do not make your payment as agreed, then the doctor or hospital can send your account to a collection agency, which will most likely harrass you regarding the debt.  The doctor or hospital can also sue you and be awarded the amount of the debt, court costs, and attorney fees... which only increase the amount that you owe.  If they jump through enough hoops after the judgment is entered, then they can file liens against non-exempt property or garnish accounts-- but this usually takes some serious hoop jumping.  You do not have to be victimized by a debt collection process, however.  You may want to offer to pay a lump sum on your accounts in exchange or a smaller, up front, lump sum payment.  You can also file for bankruptcy-- which will force your creditors to structure a better repayment plan for you.  If you cannot afford the debt at all, then it could be discharged through bankruptcy.  Many bankruptcy attorneys offer free consultations.  Even though you may not like the stigma associated with this option, the call to a bankruptcy attorney may be worth the eventual peace of mind.


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