What happens if you do not pay your medical bills?

Lana Bandoim's picture

If you have unpaid medical bills, then you have to pay attention to the following points.

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ACA International reports that hospitals in the United States provided $45.9 billion in care that was never compensated. Despite ObamaCare, NPR points out that 26 percent of all adults in the U.S. share that medical expenses have created a serious financial problem for their households. The issue of unpaid medical bills is not going away, and you have to be aware of the consequences.

Penalties and unpaid medical bills

Initially, if you are not able to pay your medical bills, you will receive multiple letters from your doctor or hospital that request payment. These bills can include penalties such as late fees and interest charges. If you do not have insurance, or your insurance company refuses to take care of the bills, then you are legally obligated to pay them.

Most hospitals and medical offices have a strict collections process that does not give patients a great deal of time to make payments. You may be able to set up a payment plan or ask for financial help in some cases. However, eventually your unpaid medical bills will be turned over to a collections agency.

Your credit score and unpaid medical bills

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One of the consequences of having unpaid medical bills is having to deal with a collections agency. Your credit score will reflect the unpaid bills, and it will be affected negatively. Even if you are making regular payments, your credit score can still be hurt. This can affect your ability to get a loan or purchase a home.

If you are concerned about the impact medical bills are having on your credit score, then there are several steps you can take to improve it. First, you want to work on paying off all legitimate debts since this helps your score. Second, you want to work on removing the medical collection bills from your credit report.

Other consequences of unpaid medical bills

Although the negative impact on your credit score and report is enormous, this is not the only consequence of having unpaid medical bills. A collections agency can sue you and get a judgment against you. There are reports of families being sued over a $60 unpaid medical bill, and the debt collector winning in court. In addition, collections agencies can garnish wages in some states, so households can lose a portion of their paycheck every month.

The next steps

If you are faced with a pile of medical bills you cannot pay, then it is important to remain proactive instead of ignoring the problem. First, you want to make sure the bills are accurate, and you are not being overcharged or double charged. Second, you may have to ask for a payment plan, apply for financial assistance or ask for charity care. Third, you have to work on paying off the debt because it will not disappear on its own, and collections agencies can come after you.

If a collections agency is already involved, then you have to consider the impact on your credit score and report. You must work on reducing the medical debt and removing it from your credit report, so it does not continue to affect your future.

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