How long after a hospital visit can the hospital expect to get paid for a presenting a bill for the first time?

Asked over 6 years ago - New York, NY

Hospital sent a first bill two years after hospital visit. Do I need to pay? Is there a statute of limitations on the collection of such debts (if in fact it is a legitimate debt)?

Attorney answers (4)

  1. Elliott M. Portman

    Contributor Level 13

    Answered . The hospital can bring suit up to six years after the last date of treatment.

    They probably billed the patient's designated insurance carrier and ran through their appeals process before first billing the patient for the unpaid balance.

  2. Robert Roth

    Contributor Level 8

    Answered . In New York, the Statute of Limitations for breach of contract is six years except for contracts for the sale of goods in which it is four years. In either case, they are within the limits.

    Be advised that there are several law firms in the city that do nothing other than handle hospital collection lawsuits and that hospitals are not shy about suing people.

    If the bill is legitimate, now is the time to see if there is any way to negotiate a reduction, or failing that, a payment plan.

    Good luck!

  3. Brian J. Passante

    Contributor Level 10

    Answered . The answer to your question depends on a number of additional facts and the laws of your state.

    Most states have a scheme established to implement a number of public policies concerning debt collection and filing suit for breach of contract. Among the goals are to prevent stale claims and case a dispute to be raised reasonable soon after the breach. These laws are referred to as Limitations of Action of Statutes of Limitation. The length of time for a claimant or creditor to bring a claim can vary depending on the type of claim (e.g. written contract versus oral contract vs fiduciary contract). The time the clock starts to run is also determined by statute or caselaw.

    The federal Fair Debt Collections Practice Act (or a state laws similar) might grant you certain rights about verification of the debt. Since the healthcare industry is highly regulated, there may also be state laws about the prompt and accurate billing by healthcare providers.

    You should explore each of these issues with a skilled attorney licensed in your state.

    Note: This Answer and any information contained in this answer is not intended to be treated as legal advice, but is offered solely for information purposes; And, this posting does not create an attorney-client relationship or privacy privilege of any kind. This attorney licensed only in Georgia.

  4. Brian J. Passante

    Contributor Level 10

    Answered . Addendum to earlier answer: Another thought for your reading: You might also examine your state's Fair Business Practice Act. Many states adopt a model act that bars certain conduct that is deceptive or unfair in practice.

    Georgia's FBPA contains a provision requiring a Hospital to issue a detailed billing within 6 days of discharge. OCGA Sec. 10-1-390(a)(14). Here is the text: "Failure of a hospital or long-term care facility to deliver to an inpatient who has been discharged or to his or her legal representative, not later than six business days after the date of such discharge, an itemized statement of all charges for which the patient or third-party payor is being billed"

    The violation of the FBPA can result in Action by the State Attorney general, or a private cause of action for damages, treble (x3) actual damages, and attorneys fees. So, if your state has a similar provision, if the hospital did wait 2 years to issue the detailed billing, you may have some viable legal arguments to make that they delayed too long.

    Note: This Answer and any information contained in this answer is not intended to be treated as legal advice, but is offered solely for information purposes; And, this posting does not create an attorney-client relationship or privacy privilege of any kind. This attorney licensed only in Georgia.

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