Wage Garnishment and Medical Debt
Medical debt in this country is bad enough. But when creditors come after you, it can get even worse. If you have a lot of medical debt, you may wonder, “Can hospitals garnish your wages?” Here’s what you need to know.
When You Owe Debt to Hospital
Hospitals are one of the biggest creditors in the United States. They have huge billing offices where teams of people make sure the patients pay up. And when those patients can’t afford their bills, they use every tactic a normal creditor would.
That means hospitals can call, text, and mail you about your debt. They can sell your debt to another creditor who can come after you to make you pay. And yes, they can also garnish your wages.
A few years ago, a Memphis group called MLK50: Justice Through Journalism partnered with ProPublica to uncover a serious abuse of this system. They investigated the Methodist hospital system in Memphis and found Methodist Le Bonheur was not only garnishing their patient’s wages—they were garnishing their own employees’ wages!
The research was shocking and included headlines like “Methodist Le Bonheur Makes Millions, Owns a Collection Agency, and Relentlessly Sues the Poor.”
A court has since ordered hospitals can’t garnish their own employees’ wages, but they can still garnish wages from any other patients.
What You Can Do About Wage Garnishment
If you want to stop wage garnishment from a hospital, you do have some options.
Some people like to start with the hospital where it all started. You can contact the hospital’s billing department and try to work out a payment plan. Sometimes if the debt is small enough, they’ll agree to work with you.
It’s wonderful if that strategy works, but most of the time it’s not enough. Firstly, many hospitals aren’t willing to work with you at all. Secondly, the agreements they do accept aren’t backed by law or the courts. The hospital can go back on their terms any time. It’s really nothing more than a handshake.
In that situation, you really want the law on your side. You want to get the courts to start working for you instead of against you.
That’s why a lot of people choose bankruptcy.
Bankruptcy ends wage garnishment instantly. The court orders something called a “stay,” and after that, creditors have to stop coming after you. Even the most powerful hospital systems in the country are required to back off.
Help to Stop Wage Garnishment from a Hospital
It’s terrible to imagine one serious health problem can lead to these tactics from hospitals. Unfortunately, for many Americans, that’s the law right now. Medical debt is an enormous burden that can steal your joy, your paycheck, and your peace of mind as you try to get better.
Fortunately, you don’t have to go it alone.
Our attorneys have helped hundreds of people whose medical debt became too much of a burden to get a fresh start, and we can help you, too.
Contact us today at 901-327-2100 to get started, or just fill out the form on this page. We’re happy to answer your questions, and the conversation is totally free, no strings attached.