It is not a HIPPA violation to release a medical bill to a collection agency provided that the details on the bill are in proper form. As far as legal responsibility goes, the person being treated is always responsible for the bill. In addition there is law in Pennsylvania which can make one spouse liable for the necessary emergency life-saving medical care of another. Of course there are exceptions to both of these things but from the limited information you have provided I have given you the best answer possible.
Generally, when a person obtains medical treatment, that person is 100% liable for the costs of care. An exception occurs with married persons. When one spouse cannot or will not pay for his or her own care, the other spouse may be made liable under the Doctrine of Necessaries. The creditor should exhaust collection attempts against the spouse who obtained the care first. Accordingly, both spouses are generally and ultimately liable for each other's medical debts.
Federal healthcare privacy laws generally allow medical providers to share relevant healthcare information with debt collectors for the purpose of collection. Refusing to pay or failing to pay a medical debt triggers a medical provider's ability to share healthcare information with a debt collector.
Disclaimer: Nothing stated herein is legal advice. For legal advice, consult an attorney; I am not your attorney at this time. This response may constitute ATTORNEY ADVERTISING which has not been approved by the Supreme Courts of New Jersey or Pennsylvania or the Court of Appeals of Maryland. I am a federally-designated “debt relief agency” that provides, where appropriate, relief under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.