A new bill has been introduced to the New Jersey legislature which would prevent bill collectors from contacting hospital patients for a certain period of time after the patient leaves the hospital. The bill was inspired by a mother who took a choking toddler to the emergency room and wound up with thousands of dollars in hospital bills. The bills added up and ruined the women’s credit.
The bill is being sponsored by Assemblywomen Joann Downey and Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling. The bill specifically prohibits health care facilities from reporting and or taking any legal action until at least 90 days have expired from the time in which the patient was presented with any health care bill.
The bill would specifically prohibit health care facilities from reporting an outstanding balance to a collection agency or taking any legal action until at least 90 days after the date the patient was first provided with the bill from the hospital.
Assemblywomen Downey said the time fame is fair as it allows for patients to make a sincere and genuine effort to obtain the funds and pay the hospital bill. She said that people who are recovering are not immediately concerned with paying off the bill.
Additionally, before referring the matter to a debt collection agency the health care facility must offer the patient the option to participate in an income-based repayment plan. If the patient is temporarily disabled, the hospital would not be able to collect the debt until after the patient is able to return to work.
The proposed law would finally discharge any debt if the patient dies and or becomes permanently disabled. The debt would not be passed off to relatives.
Hospital bills can cause tremendous financial strain to those who are injured in Monmouth County car accidents, Monmouth County slip and fall accidents and other types of Monmouth County accidents. Seeking legal advice after an accident may help answer questions regarding hospital bills.