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Can Arizonians stop medical bills from being sent to collections?

An unexpected medical bill can lead to out-of-control debt when a Phoenix resident isn't able to pay it off in a timely manner. This happened to a parent trying to pay offer her daughter's cardiology bill, which was initially $1,300. After the insurance provider's discount, the remaining balance was $965. The woman paid at least $150 for three months to get the balance to about $550. However, the billing department's office wants her to either auto pay or pay in full, neither of which she can do. She received notice that the department would send the bill to collections, which is something that she didn't want.

When it comes to medical expenses, a medical provider usually prefers full payments. They have the legal right to send an account to collections if the bill isn't paid according to the terms in the agreement that an individual is required to sign prior to any medical treatment.

Thus, the woman paying her daughter's medical bill may have to agree to recurring payments. For example, she could place the payments on a credit card to make sure the bill is paid. It will give her the time she needs to pay the bill.

For individuals struggling with medical expenses in the thousands, bankruptcy may be a better option than letting bills go into collections. U.S. bankruptcy laws allow individuals to file chapter 7 to eliminate unsecured bills or chapter 13 to repay them over time. A bankruptcy attorney may be able to assist by advising which chapter provides the most benefits for a client. They may also file the bankruptcy petition on the clients' behalf and attend any creditor meetings that generally occur with filing bankruptcy.

Source: Fox Business, "Can I Stop a Medical Bill from Going to Collections?", Deanna Templeton, July 29, 2013

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  • NACA | National Association of Consumer Advocates
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