Medical Billing

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how often do hospitals sue for unpaid bills

How Often Do Hospitals Sue For Unpaid Bills?

Not all patients are capable of paying medical bills on time. Worse financial situations make it difficult for them to bear healthcare expenses. This results in many cases where you don’t make the payment and the hospital contacts collection agencies to recover their bills. In more serious cases healthcare providers file cases against some stubborn patients. But worry not, these cases have fewer chances to occur. However, knowing how often do hospitals sue for unpaid bills is essential to prevent such scenarios from happening.

Today, we will dive into the deadline hospitals give you until you pay the bill or when they sue you. This guide is a must-read because medical bills are what you might face in the future as it is an important aspect of life. Read till the end to know the actual sue procedure and some strategies to deal with the case.

The Medical Debt You Owe

2 people discussing the bill

No hospital directly sues you for not paying the bill. Instead, first, they wait for a timeline of 180 days. But when the payments aren’t made, debt collection agencies come into play. These are the companies that contact the patient and ask for the payments.

When you are surrounded by weak financial stability, your bill will be declared as debt. After this, you will be offered some payment options like installments to pay the bill within a specific year and month limit. You might think it’s not a big deal. But let us tell you the consequences.

Medical debt is the one you should avoid at all costs. Because it will impact your credit score negatively. Bills more than $500 will be shown on your credit score and you know what will happen afterward. It will become difficult for you to conduct credit-related transactions in the future with good rates. Instead, you will have to pay high interest rates.

The Practice Of Hospitals Suing For Unpaid Bills

When we said you must take a quick step toward your bill and ask for payment options early on, it is because hospitals have a right to sue you. Suing is basically the last resort of hospitals when they have already tried a thousand (just for example!) means to collect their bill. They contact you through phones, emails, and official letters. But in the end when even you don’t pay the bills through collection agencies then this is where they stop putting in more effort. 

Bills for services like surgeries, emergency room visits, or extended hospital stays are mostly sued because they are high-billed treatments. So by all means when they can’t make you pay the bill, hospitals hire a lawyer, discuss the case, and initiate legal proceedings in the appropriate court.

So, How Often Do Hospitals Sue For Unpaid Bills?

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Healthcare facilities are facing huge difficulties in managing their expenses. Creating a balance between good healthcare and return on investment has become a challenge for providers. This leads to an aggressive attitude towards patients’ bills. In recent years there has been a hike in pursuing lawsuits on unpaid bills.

On average, 1 in every 5 hospitals in the United States has filed cases against patients. This amount is usually more in those regions where there are fewer insured patients and they face difficulty in paying expensive bills. As in regions with patients having sufficient insurance, the rate of suing unpaid bills is relatively lower.

How To Deal With The Situation When They Sue?

Now you have enough knowledge about when and how often hospitals have the audacity to sue you. But knowing only the frequency isn’t enough. You must have an action plan ready at hand just in case you get into such a situation in the future. Here is what you should do if you are sued or about to sue for not paying the bills.

Respond To The Lawsuit

Unfortunately, when you are used, you must respond within a limited timeframe of the usual 20-30 days. Ignoring it might begin default judgment against you. So consult with a billing lawyer, know your rights in the situation, and have options to respond.

Gather Documents

Then have all the relevant documents at hand related to your medical bills and treatments along with any communication with healthcare providers and collection agencies. Crucial records include:

Know the Impact of Medical Debts on Your Credit

  • Invoices
  • Receipts
  • Correspondence 
  • Payment records

This information will help you swiftly respond to the case.

Review The Lawsuit

It is your right to review the allegations made against you by the provider as well as the amount demanded. It is crucial to understand what you owe so you can formulate a customized response.

Consider Legal Aid

Again we advise you to hire a lawyer having expertise in collection and unpaid bill cases. They are professional in handling such situations. Collaborating with them will surely get you out of the complicated situation you are stuck in. Explain clearly your side of the story and listen to their advice to deal with the issue.


Even after filing the case, it is possible to negotiate on the bill. Healthcare providers always keep their doors open for negotiation. So have a detailed discussion with them and try out a mutual agreement. 

Your lawyer will assist you here as well to facilitate communication with providers to secure a favorable contract.

Attend Court Hearings

After all tries if you are summoned to the court, make sure to attend all court hearings. Your lawyer will represent you in the court but your presence is crucial to answer any legal questions.

Follow Court Orders

Court judges are honorable. If they have provided rulings over making the payment or fulfilling other obligations, do complete that. Ignoring their orders will result in more legal consequences.

Seek Financial Assistance

In the end, if you still can’t pay the hospital bill, consider charity and government assistance programs. There are numerous institutions that will provide you finances to make the payment so get help from them.

Some Valuable Tips To Avoid Lawsuit

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We don’t want you to get into such a situation. That’s why below are some steps to take after receiving the treatment to avoid legal proceedings.

Review Your Bills Carefully

First, it is essential to read the bill properly after getting the treatment. Even when there is no chance of non-payment from your side, it is a good practice to review the bill. Ask for explanations of benefits (EOB) and ensure all charges are accurate.

Communicate With Your Healthcare Provider

After receiving the bill if you are incapable of making the payment, quickly contact your healthcare provider and explain your situation. We advise you to never ignore your bills, especially expensive ones. You might take it lightly, but your providers don’t.

So visit your provider, discuss the situation with proof, and ask for any payment plan they have to offer. Usually, hospitals have such plans ready for needy patients. 


If they are not offering any favorable option, try to negotiate on the bill. Make them clear your financial condition with accurate evidence. This way they will know you can’t pay the bills so they reduce the amount to some extent to ensure at least a half amount of revenue.

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    Facing Hospital Lawsuits

    Everyone today must be aware of the timeline of how often do hospitals sue for unpaid bills. Patients can’t make it to their basic needs in life and expensive healthcare adds a further layer of difficulty. So it is essential to have a guide in advance about how often it happens, what to do after this, and strategies to prevent it.

    Healthcare is an essential need of human beings; you can’t ignore it. But knowing the proper action plan will surely help you handle the situation better.