Whether as the result of a planned procedure or an unexpected emergency, most people will incur medical expenses at some point in their lives. However, health care costs continue to rise, and even with insurance, a person can become strapped with unpaid medical bills that will adversely affect their finances and make it harder to make ends meet. When facing this situation, it is a good idea for one to know the laws regarding medical debt in Tennessee.
First, when a person goes to the hospital for treatment, he or she has a contractual obligation to pay for the medical treatment received. Much like credit cards, medical debt is unsecured by collateral, and health care providers can pursue legal avenues to collect the money they are owed, which can include litigation. However, the statute of limitations for collecting medical debt in Tennessee is six years, and after this period, the debtor usually stands a much better chance of defending him or herself in court.
Second, the creditor can petition a Tennessee court for the right to garner a person's wages in order to recoup the debt. Following federal regulations regarding wage garnishment, a creditor can collect up to 25 percent of the person's weekly income after taxes or an amount that equals no more than 30 times the federally mandated minimum wage requirement, whichever is less. Failing this, a creditor may also petition to have a lien placed on the debtor's property.
While dealing with medical debt is certainly a serious situation, many people find they can negotiate with their hospitals or health care providers to lower their payments and enter into more reasonable repayment plans. In any event, those in Tennessee struggling to repay their medical bills would do well to consult with an attorney experienced in debt relief. An attorney can offer solid advice about the person's options and offer much-needed guidance and support throughout any negotiations or legal proceedings that may follow.
Source: sapling.com, "Tennessee Laws for Unpaid Medical Bills", Jonathan Lister, Accessed on Feb. 28, 2018