Can you go to jail for not paying medical bills? - Let's Find Out

Can You Go To Jail For Not Paying Medical Bills? – Let’s Find Out

Economy 5 Mins Read September 14, 2023 Posted by Soumava Goswami

Can you go to jail for not paying medical bills? – No, you cannot go to jail for being unable to pay medical bills. The law does not send someone to jail for not paying civil debts. However, the debt collection agency that is responsible for collecting the debt from you might request you to appear at the court for the debtor?s examination. If you do not appear at the court, then the judge might issue an arrest warrant for you.

In this article, you will get to know what will happen if you do not pay your medical bills. Apart from that, you will learn why medical debt is common in the United States. Furthermore, we will also clarify to you whether you can go to jail for not paying medical bills. Finally, we will share with you some useful tips on what to do if you fail to pay your medical debts. Hence, to learn more about this topic, read on through to the end of the article.

Medical Debt – Why Is It Quite Common Than You Think?

Medical Debt - Why Is It Quite Common Than You Think

Medical debts are quite common in the United States. This is because the cost of medical treatment in the US is very high compared to other parts of the world. Some states in the USA offer stringent provisions for the punishment of medical debt. If you stay in one of those states where you can go to jail for debt, you must develop the awareness. 

The collective outstanding medical debt of Americans is $140 billion. Two of the major culprits behind a high medical debt in the USA are the rising cost of healthcare and the lack of health insurance, among many others.

According to Investopedia,

?Lack of insurance is one key reason for unpaid medical debt. An estimated 27.3 million U.S. residents under the age of 65 in the U.S. are uninsured. They may not have the option to obtain insurance through the workplace, or may be self-employed and unable to afford steep insurance premiums.?

So, you can see from here that a lack of insurance can increase the financial burden for people who require medical care. To pay their medical bills, people mainly respond to medical debts by delaying household purchases, vacations, cutting household expenses, borrowing, working more, tapping retirement savings, etc.

Despite all these steps, people cannot pay their medical bills, and the healthcare center sells the debt to a debt collector. This shows the high cost of medical care in the United States. Hence, you do not need to feel ashamed if you are low on medical bills.

What Happens If You Do Not Pay Your Medical Bills?

What Happens If You Do Not Pay Your Medical Bills

Medical bills are one of the biggest sources of debt collection in the United States, and medical debt outranks combined amounts of credit cards, auto loans, and utilities. Hence, if you have a medical debt, don?t worry, as almost 1 in every 3 US Citizens has at least one unpaid healthcare bill.

However, if you have a medical debt, there are some problems that you might face from time to time. One of the biggest problems that you will face is that debt collectors will come after you. The hospital or healthcare center, once they realize that you are unable to pay your debts, sell the debt to debt collection agencies. However, they will give you a final warning before they sell the debt to an agency.

The job of debt collection agencies is to collect the debt from you. Hence, they will continuously make calls, and it is quite normal to feel disturbed. They might even meet you in person and ask you to pay. Despite that, in many instances, debt collectors are willing to negotiate.

According to GoodRx Health,

?A debt collector?s job is to get a balance paid in full. But in many instances, they?re willing to negotiate. Be firm and offer to pay what you can afford. They may accept that amount to close the file. You also can ask about a payment plan. It?s important to know your rights in debt collection. Debt collectors can?t call you an unreasonable number of times or outside of the hours of 8 AM to 9 PM in your time zone.?

Can You Go To Jail For Not Paying Medical Bills?

Thankfully, NO! You cannot go to jail if you fail to pay your medical bills. The law does not allow the arrest of an individual for civil debts. Individuals get arrested for not paying their taxes. As already discussed, If you cannot pay the medical bills to the hospital, they will sell your debt to a debt collection agency.

If the debt collection agency finds out that you do not have enough income to pay your medical debts, they might ask you to appear before the court. In this case, if you fail to appear before the court, the judge might issue an arrest warrant for you. The point is that you will not go to jail for not paying your medical debt, but you might go to jail if you ignore an order from the court.

What To Do If You Cannot Pay Your Medical Bills?

What To Do If You Cannot Pay Your Medical Bills

Investopedia recommends here –

?Control what you can by making sure your medical bills are accurate, negotiating for lower charges, and knowing your rights when it comes to medical debt collections. And if you can?t manage these tasks on your own, get outside help from an expert.?

The following are some of the major things you can do if you are unable to pay your medical bills:

1. Find Errors In The Bill

You can do this by looking for duplicate items, unreceived services, and charges that need to be covered under insurance. You can point those out to the billing department.

2. Negotiate The Bill

If you think the bill is too much for you, consider negotiating the bill with the medical billing manager. You can also ask for hardship assistance from the hospital.

3. Ask For An Aggressive Discount

Aggressive discounts work if you make a big downpayment and ask them to give a big discount.

4. Ask For Outside Help

You can take the help of a medical caseworker, a debt negotiator, or a medical billing advocate, as these professionals can help in reducing the bill.

Wrapping Up

Can you go to jail for not paying medical bills? Hope this article was helpful for you in answering this question. You will not get arrested if you do not pay your medical bills. However, if a court order comes, ensure to be present in the court on the hearing day. Share your thoughts on this in the comments section below.

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A passionate writer and an avid reader, Soumava is academically inclined and loves writing on topics requiring deep research. Having 3+ years of experience, Soumava also loves writing blogs in other domains, including digital marketing, business, technology, travel, and sports.

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