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I actually have quite a bit of experience in this situation. It's not surprising at all that the hospital is not willing to work with you, to what they have already taken off, and in saying that it is firm. Personally I don't understand why hospitals take such hard-line, although I believe that it is actually in relation to what they charge insurance companies, because if they were to drop their rates too low, the insurance companies can actually then challenge what is being paid by them to the hospitals, and hospitals don't want to do that. However, if they referred to collections, you can expect a further discount.
Collections are given a lot more leeway in collecting these sums, and particularly in the case where you are not currently employed (and thus don't have an income that can be garnished) they are more willing to work with you in this situation.
if you threaten bankruptcy ( in that, if you were forced to be able to pay this, you wouldn't be able to pay it, and would have to file bankruptcy) that would get the attention of the collection agency (when it goes to collection) and they should be willing to accept a lower amount. The reason for that is that bankruptcy will discharge most if not all of the amount, and they would be better off for a dime on the dollar than a penny on the dollar...
ultimately, if it were me, I would let it go to collections, and then try to work with the collection agency. In my experience you will have a much better chance getting the amount that you owe down with the collection agency than you would with the hospital.
And again, when you actually interact with the collection agency, you should mention that you cannot pay too much otherwise you would be forced to file for bankruptcy, as that will get their attention and make them realize that they would not be able to get the entire amount from you, and would make it far less likely that they would actually take it to court to try to get a judgment against you.
Most retirement accounts are exempt from garnishment, however nonretirement stock accounts are not, and I would not mention that to the debt collectors.
In conclusion, do not worry about it getting referred to the debt collectors, as this will actually benefit you because you'll be able to get a better deal (almost certainly) than you would with the hospital.
Hope that clears things up a bit. If you have any other questions, please let me know. If not, and you have not yet, please rate my answer AND press the "submit" button, if applicable. Please note that I don't get any credit for my answer unless and until you rate it a 3, 4, 5 (good or better). Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX luck to you!
I have always paid my bills. I have good credit which i worked for. Will my credit be impacted by allowing this to go to collections? Should I close and move my money from the stock market?
Sorry, having a bit of technical difficulties...
It could show up on your credit, but typically the collection agency will hold off for a few months.
(before reporting it to the credit bureaus)
As for accounts, what would be better is to set up a trust (which is very beneficial if you have children or other individuals that you would want to have an estate plan for) and transfer ownership into the name of the trust.
That makes it a bit more difficult for creditors to come after those assets.