Discharging medical bills and hospital bills in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy

by Suffolk County Long Island bankruptcy lawyer Alan Pressman  Call me at 631-234-3883 for a
free consultation.  Or email me at
consultation@alanpressman.com

You can discharge medical bills, hospital bills, doctor bills, and medical lab bills when you file a chapter 7
bankruptcy.

If you owe money to a doctor or a hospital, it is important that you list (on your chapter 7 schedules) the name
and address of each and every doctor or hospital to whom you owe money.
Most hospitals on Long Island are what’s known as “private hospitals”.  When you are a patient at a private
hospital, there is a bill from the hospital– for the use of its facilities, including your hospital room, the hospital’s
medical equipment, the nurses, the food etc.  In addition, there are separate bills from any doctors who
provided services to you while you were at the hospital. Services provided by a doctor can include (but are not
limited to) surgery, a medical procedure, or just checking in on you to monitor your status.  Often, if a procedure
is performed on you, there is a separate bill owed to the doctor who performed the procedure, and to an
anesthesiologist.

So, when you have been a patient at a hospital, make sure that you separately list, (as a creditor on your
chapter 7 bankruptcy schedules)  the hospital you were treated at as well as any doctors with whom you had
any dealings  while you were at the hospital– even if the doctor did nothing more than stop in to your room once
or twice to see how you’re doing.
If you are not sure which doctors you owe money to in connection with a hospital stay, you can try calling the
hospital’s billing department.  They may be able to provide you with this information.

Go through your bills and records carefully-- you want to make sure that your chapter 7 bankruptcy petition lists
all medical service providers-- doctors, hospitals, labs, ambulance companies etc., so as to ensure that all of
those debt gets discharged as part of your chapter 7 bankruptcy.  When it comes to medical bills, it is best not
to assume that your credit reports list all of your medical debts.  It is possible, for instance, that a doctor to
whom you owe money did not report your debt to the credit reporting agencies.
To obtain additional information about your medical bills, you can call the billing department of any hospital you
were.  You can also call the office of any doctor who treated you,  as well as calling any lab you used.

Also, keep in mind that in order to discharge a medical or hospital bill in a chapter a chapter 7 bankruptcy, the
services upon which the bill is based must have been provided prior to when the chapter 7 bankruptcy was
filed.  

If you are married and have medical bills or hospital bills, it is best to file  your chapter 7 bankruptcy as a joint
(husband & wife) petition.

With medical or hospital bills, the creditor will typically try to collect from the other (ie. non-filing) spouse if only
one of the spouses files the chapter 7.

When you go to a doctor’s office or to a hospital, you are usually given a form to fill out which asks if you are
married.  If your answer is “yes”, you are then asked to provide the name, as well as further information, about
the spouse.  So the creditor knows whether you are married– and, based on the form you filled out, they
information from you about your spouse, such as their name, and often their place of employment.

So, in order to prevent a medical bill or hospital bill creditor from trying to collect from your spouse– if you plan
to file a chapter 7 bankruptcy on Long Island which involves medical bills or hospital bills, it is best to file a joint
(husband & wife) chapter 7 petition.


If  a medical bill, hospital bill, lab bill, ambulance bill etc is incurred by a child who is a minor, the parents are
typically legally responsible for paying those bills.  As such, parents should list their minor children's
outstanding medical and hospital bills as creditors on their (the parents') chapter 7 bankruptcy petition.  


Persons looking to file a chapter 7 bankruptcy on Long Island often ask– If I wipe out medical bills or hospital
bills in a chapter 7 bankruptcy, will I still be able to use the hospital, or doctor, whose bills I discharged?

There is a Federal law, the Emergency Medical Treatment & Active Labor Act (EMTALA), which provides that a
hospital may not refuse emergency treatment to someone on account of unpaid bills.  As to whether a hospital
will admit you to its facilities for a non-emergency matter, it is best to check with the hospital in advance to find
out what their policy is.  That said, I have been handling chapter 7 bankruptcy cases on Long Island for more
than thirty years, and I cannot recall a single instance of a former client calling me to tell me that a hospital
would not admit them on account of their having discharged their hospital bill  in a chapter 7 bankruptcy.

If you are filing a chapter 7 bankruptcy on Long Island where you are discharging a medical bill owed to a
doctor (or a medical group) in private practice, it would be best to call the doctor’s office in advance to find out
what their policy is as to– will the doctor still treat someone who has discharged, in a chapter 7 bankruptcy a
medical bill owed to the doctor.  The doctor may be willing to keep you on as patient, for several reasons:

1.  The doctor may have already received a fair amount of compensation from your medical insurance.

2.  Since you just filed a chapter 7 bankruptcy, the doctor  doesn’t have to worry that you’ll file a chapter 7 to
wipe out his medical bills going forward (at least not within the next eight years)– since you can only file a
chapter 7 bankruptcy once every eight years.

3.  Many doctors view their medical practice as being primarily about helping people who have medical
problems, with money & billing considerations being secondary.

When you are filing a chapter 7 bankruptcy on Long Island, and you have medical bills or hospital bills to
discharge, it is important to list on your chapter 7 petition the name and address of each doctor, hospital, lab
etc. that you owe money to. By listing the name and address of every doctor, hospital, lab etc. on the chapter 7
bankruptcy petition, you will help ensure that any monies you owe to these creditors will get discharged in the
chapter 7 bankruptcy.  Often, the medical bills or hospital bills you receive in the mail are from a collection
agency.   If there is a collection agency involved, it is best to list (on the schedule of creditors on your
bankruptcy petition) the name of the doctor or hospital c/o the collection agency, followed by the collection
agency’s address–  in addition to separately listing the name of the actual doctor or hospital followed by their
address. The doctor or hospital c/o the collection agency can be specified on the bankruptcy petition as a
duplicate debt.  By listing this duplicate , the bankruptcy court will send a notice in the mail to the collection
agency as well as the actual doctor or hospital.  This should cause the phone calls and letters from the
collection agency to stop more quickly. If you have medical bills or hospital bills which you are looking to
discharge in a  chapter 7 bankruptcy on Long Island,  I do not recommend listing merely the collection agency
and its address.  Since the collection agency is collecting on behalf of the doctor or hospital , it is best to list (on
the schedule of creditors on your bankruptcy petition) the collection agency as a duplicate debt in the manner
described above.



This article was written by Alan Pressman, Suffolk County Long Island bankruptcy attorney

If you would like a free consultation on Chapter 7 bankruptcy with Alan Pressman, call (631) 234-
3883
.  I have been actively handling bankruptcy cases on Long Island for more than 30 years.  My
office is located at 3100 Veterans Highway, Bohemia, New York  11716

My fees are very reasonable.  
Evening appointments are available.  
I will handle your case personally.
My law practice is  focused  100% on handling bankruptcy cases.  Bankruptcy is  my entire law
practice.

Call now for a free consultation.
(631) 234-3883

3100 Veterans Highway, Bohemia --
Long Island Expressway Exit 57, approx. 2 miles southeast

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