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What To Do When You Have a Medical Bill

Did you really receive the services?

If not, tell the bill collector that you disagree with the bill because you did not receive the services. You don't need a lawyer to do that. Put it in writing and keep a copy of the letter. Be polite. The office may have made an honest mistake.

Ask your doctors for itemized bills. Review the services provided and the services you are being billed for. Get another copy if you lost the original bill.

Is someone else responsible for the bill?

Were you hurt at work or on someone else's property? Do you have a child custody order that includes medical support? Were you injured in an accident that was someone else's fault? Should Medicaid or Medicare cover these costs?

If someone else should pay the bill, ask them to pay it. Tell your doctor that someone else is responsible for the bills and that you have asked them to pay.

Do you have insurance? Private? Medicaid? Medicare?

If yes: send the bill to your insurance company. Make sure that your doctor knows that you have insurance and that you have sent the bill to the company. Ask your doctor for help filling out the claim forms for insurance. Often the doctor's office will submit the claim forms for you.

If you don't have insurance: are you eligible for any health insurance through your job, or Medicaid or Medicare? Review the prior sections fact sheet which talk about different health insurance programs to you figure out if you. Some of the programs may even be able to cover old bills that you already have.

What if nobody else will pay?

If you don't have insurance and don't qualify for any of the programs described, you should try to set up a payment plan with your doctor. You would agree to pay something every month until your bill is paid off. The doctor does not have to agree to this but might, to avoid having to sue you. Tell your doctor how much you can pay, what income you have and what other bills you have.

If your doctor agrees to accept a payment plan, make sure that you always make the payment. Don't offer to pay more than you can.

If you cannot pay your bills and they are very large you may wish to consider debt reduction options.


For more information see CLAS’ other fact sheets:

Wage Garnishment in Ohio

Bank Account Attachment in Ohio

What Is Uncollectible

Debt Collection



This article is meant to give you general information and not specific legal advice.
Prepared by Community Legal Aid Services, Inc. Updated April, 2012. CE-59-F189-CLAS

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