Medical Collection Suit by Collection Agency

ECLG Answers A Question About Collections and Medical Bills

Question:

My husband name is on a summons from a collection agency for my medical bills. He has never received a bill in his name. Can they just place his name on the complaint when he was not aware of the medical bills? Also, it has a court date of 2 weeks from day served. When I ask them to move the date (collection agency) they stated they do not move court dates. I live in the state of Illinois.

Answer:

This is actually a difficult area of the law, depending on such facts as whether you were living together, whether the medical treatment was elective or non-elective, and whether there was a deliberate extension of credit to one spouse. Generally, Illinois law makes spouses liable for the necessary medical expenses of one another, at least when they are living together. Federal law allows one spouse to contract for credit without the involvement of the other.

Also, many medical debts are quite difficult to prove. If no price is agreed to (it may be in the case of elective procedures such as plastic surgery), the provider is entitled to the reasonable value of medically necessary treatment. Careful examination of the medical records and bills may show charges for services that were not performed, duplicate charges, or facially unreasonable items ($100 for an aspirin).

Illinois has recently (beginning 2010) adopted statutes and regulations limiting the amount which can be charged uninsured persons, requiring hospitals to notify patients of financial assistance and charity care programs, and requiring payment plans to be offered to both insured and uninsured patients. A hospital has to allege and prove compliance with certain of these requirements.

The fact that a collection agency is suing raises an issue of whether the agency is acting on behalf of the provider, in which case there are special requirements of the Collection Agency Act applicable, or has actually purchased the debt outright, in which case it may be impossible for the collection agency to prove anything, and possible that suit was filed in violation of the requirements referred to above.

It is essential that he appear on the date specified, personally or by counsel.

Learn More About Your Debt Collection Rights

The consumer protection lawyers at ECLG have more than 100 years of experience combined. If you have a question about debt collection laws in Illinois, call (312) 626-3585 or contact us online.

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