What should I do when bill collectors call or send threatening letters about unpaid medical bills?
Don't panic! There is typically a gap of at least a few months between the date of the accident and the date of the settlement. During this time, medical providers who have not yet have been paid may call you about paying up, send the bill to collections, or send threatening letters. I have seen hospitals, ambulance companies, and treating physicians’ billing groups take this approach. Other providers, such as those bills that are tied to a lien, usually will not bother contacting you as they know they will not be paid until the case settles.
Generally medical providers will wait at least 180 days before sending a bill to a collections company. Sometimes this happens much sooner, I have seen some hospitals send their bills directly to collections before sending the bill to the patient. The good news is that if your bill has been sent to a collections company, this does not necessarily mean that it is has been sent to your credit report.
If this happens to you, please let us know. I usually advise clients to contact the medical provider or collections agency and advise that payment of the bill is pending settlement of the case. Request that all collection attempts are ceased for 4-6 months to allow your case the opportunity to settle.
At The Gerring Law Firm we pride ourselves on making sure that all of our client’s medical bills are 100% paid off at the end of the case. This ensures that our clients get to keep whatever amounts we pay them without having to worry about paying medical providers.
If you do not want to call, let us know and we will do it for you. I usually tell clients to try calling on their own first as the client is able to chat more quickly with the collections agency. If we call, we have the added step of sending them a HIPAA form first just to get the authority to discuss the case. This takes a little extra time, but we do not mind doing it if you are fearful that the collections agency will not treat your fairly.