Legal Question in Health Care Law in Missouri

Payments to Hospital

I received a bill from the hospital for payment of services provided to me. It was 2400 dollars. I sent them a check for 20.00 because that is all I can afford. I received a call form them stating that was not enought. I have to have my bill payed off in 6 months. That would be 400 dollars a month that I don't have. As long as I am making payments of some sort each month can they turn me over to a collections agency?

Thank you

Asked on 1/19/06, 10:58 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

Anthony DeWitt Bartimus, Frickleton Robertson & Gorny, PC

Re: Payments to Hospital

In short, yes. They have a right to demand immediate and full payment for their bill. If you don't provide it, they can sue you and garnish your wages. Often if you work with the Patient Accounts folks, they can set up a payment plan, but usually they want significant payments in the order of $100 or more per month. While that may not be possible for you, you should consider whether your credit rating can withstand the assault of a collections lawsuit. If it cannot, then you'd be well advised to find some way to get some extra money and pay the matter off.

I know no one wants to hear this information, but there may also be alternatives. If the hospital is a private charity hospital, you may try to set up an appointment with the director of patient accounts and show him your full financial picture and he may agree to waive some portion of the charges. The process begins, however, with opening up a dialogue with the Patient Accounts department and asking, politely, to speak to the department director. If the hospital has a website, you can often get the name of this individual from the website and then call and ask to speak to him/her directly. I have found these folks to be remarkably more cooperative than their line employees who are given a number in terms of collections and percentages and then held to that number. If you start at the top and make full disclosure, you may wind up in a much better position.

Good luck.

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Answered on 1/19/06, 11:20 am

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