Medical Bill Assistance


Medical Bill Collection Laws

Medical bill collection laws dictate what medical providers and collection agencies can do to pursue repayment for outstanding medical bills.

On the federal level, you are protected from harassment and undue embarrassment caused by collection agencies. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) prohibits excessive phone calls to your home, and there are serious restrictions on calling third parties.

For one, a third party may only be contacted if they are having trouble locating you. They cannot contact a neighbor, family member or your employer for the purpose of revealing that you owe a debt and shaming you to pay it.

In addition to federal protections, there are numerous state laws that can protect you. Some protections come from collection laws for medical and other bills. Others establish time limitations for debt collection.

The statute of limitations begins when the debt is delinquent, and it expires once the appropriate period of time has passed. That time provides for when legal action may be brought against a patient for medical bills. Once the statute of limitations expires, a patient may no longer face legal action, including judgments, garnishments and liens. Depending on the state, those actions may be also be restricted. Of course, the statute of limitations does not prevent a collection agency from continuing to pursue unpaid medical bills. For this reason, expired medical bills are sometimes referred to as zombie debts since they never really die.

Documented violations of collection laws may be eligible for compensation of up to $1,000 per violation. This can substantially offset or even cancel out unpaid medical bills that are being pursued illegally. The fact that you owe a debt does not mean that a collection agent may threaten or harass you. You are specifically protected from such abuse.

If you have evidence that proves that a debt collector has violated your rights, then you may file suit against the firm. Some attorneys specialize in so-called FDCPA lawsuits, since they know how to collect damages from firms who violate provisions of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. If they take your case, the law allows for them to collect their fees from the losing defendant (collection agency) rather than from you. If they lose, then you owe nothing.

For more information on collection laws in your state, refer to local assistance providers near you. They can help you stand up for your rights and may be able to help you understand what aid is available for you.