How to Collect Medical Debt

by Amanda Maddox; Updated September 26, 2017
Medical debt results from medical treatment received in hospitals, medical offices and other facilities.

Even after an insurance company makes payment on a medical claim, the patient may be left with medical debt resulting from co-pays and deductibles. In the event a patient is uninsured, medical debt can become overwhelming for him, making collecting it difficult for the collector. Collecting medical debt is governed by the rules of the Federal Trade Commission and the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Collecting debt requires excellent skills when dealing with the public and being able to follow the guidelines set by the medical office collecting the debt.

Items you will need

  • Computer
  • Telephone
Step 1

Mail a statement to the patient that shows the date of service and the amount due within two weeks after the patient responsibility is assigned. It is important to have the correct contact information, such as mailing address and contact number, for the patient.

Step 2

Call the patient after 8 a.m. and before 9 p.m. to adhere to the Federal Trade Commission's regulations on debt collection. Only call to collect the debt after the statement is mailed and no response is received. Give her 30 to 45 days to respond to the mailed statement before calling.

Step 3

Ask for the patient by name, but do not identify who you are, where you are calling from or the nature of the call due to potential HIPAA violations. HIPAA regulations protect a patient by limiting the information that is available without his consent.

Step 4

Send a past-due statement after attempting to contact the patient to no avail. Include a note that states something like, “Your bill is past due, please remit payment immediately or call our office to speak with an accounts representative.”

Step 5

File a lawsuit if the balance is still not paid within several months. Depending on the amount of the bill, small claims court generally handles outstanding medical debt. The patient is served with court papers stating he must come to court to present a case as to why he has not paid the debt listed in the claim. A court date is then set and both the debtor and person filing the claim must be present. If the medical office wins the claim, payment of the judgment is made directly to the medical office by the debtor under terms agreed upon by all parties. This may be a lump-sum settlement or monthly payments. If it is allowed by your state, the judge has the authority to approve a wage garnishment for the required payment as well.


  • When filing a claim for medical debt recovery, follow local and state regulations.

About the Author

Amanda Maddox began writing professionally in 2007. Her work appears on various websites focusing on topics about medical billing, coding, real estate, insurance, accounting and business. Maddox has her insurance and real estate licenses and holds an Associate of Applied Science in accounting and business administration from Wallace State Community College.

Photo Credits

  • debt defined image by Christopher Walker from