Many people are under the misconception that medical debt is different from other kinds of debt. While there are a couple of protections for consumers who owe medical debt, in most cases it is no different.
Medical debt can be sent to a collections agency like any other debt. However, if it is owed to a non-profit hospital, they may be required to provide financial assistance to you before it is sent to collections.
A new Texas law requires health care providers to send an itemized bill before the account can be sent to collections. The itemized bill must contain "plain language descriptions" of the services provided. As of September 5, 2023, the Texas Health & Human Services Commission was developing rules to implement this new law.
Texas has a "timely billing" law. It requires health care service providers to bill a patient no later than the first day of the 11th month after services were provided. If the bill is not sent within the timeframe in the law, the health care service provider cannot try to collect payment for certain charges. This includes:
The details can be found in the law linked below.
In 2019, a state law went into effect protecting consumers from surprise medical bills or "balance billing." A similar federal law was passed in 2022.