My Boyfriend Was in a Car Accident and Has a Big Medical Bill. – Mary

“Dear Steve,

My boyfriend was in a car accident and went to the ER with chest pain immediately after it– we thought the insurance company would cover the cost of the ER visit because the other driver was at fault. There was no medical problem found and no follow-up required, but the bill for the visit was around $1600.

The insurance company of the other driver eventually refused to accept liability for the accident because both drivers asserted that the other was in the wrong and there were no witnesses. My boyfriend’s policy did not cover medical costs for an accident where he was at fault.

He has been unemployed for a long time and is currently out-of-status with regards to immigration. Due to other life circumstances, he has ignored bills from the hospital for a long time. Now, the hospital has turned his account over to a collection agency and he received a notice to this effect in the mail at the apartment which we share (but where the lease is in my name only). We do not have the money to pay this hospital bill.

If I tell them he moved back to his home country, will they stop trying to collect? He does not have the money to pay them.

If he doesn’t move back to his home country and starts to put the wages from his new job (thankfully started this week) in a bank account, can that account be pursued by the collection agency?

How best to manage this situation without needing to pay the full amount immediately (or preferably ever) and without putting ourselves in an even worse position financially and with regards to his immigration status?



Dear Mary,

With all hospital visits, ultimately the patient is responsible for the bill. If you have insurance that may cover the cost of the visit it does so at a convenience to the patient and not as a replacement of liability.

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I seriously don’t think that lying that your boyfriend left the country is helpful. The better approach would be to skip the collection company and contact the hospital collections department directly and see if you can’t work out a suitable repayment plan that he can meet. Even at $100 a month, this debt would be wiped out in 16 months.

The bigger issue here is that it appears your boyfriend is current not in compliance with immigration. That’s not good. With a bad debt he can get hounded and sued. With a bad immigration status he can be deported and not allowed to enter the country again.

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Damon Day - Pro Debt Coach

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Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.
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2 thoughts on “My Boyfriend Was in a Car Accident and Has a Big Medical Bill. – Mary”

  1. First of all when was the debt established? How long has it been uncollected? Secondly,if the debt has been signed over to a collection company how long has it been there? If it is within the first 30 days that the collection company has had it you can request for them to validate the debt. What the basically means is that they are required, if asked by your boyfriend, to provide proof that the account was valid and there is a burden of proof on the collection companies part. Understand that generally there is a lot of research which has to be done on their side of the business. What collection company has the debt been signed over to for collection?


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