If you owe a medical expense and cannot afford to pay it, can a lien be put on your home?

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If you owe a medical expense and cannot afford to pay it, can a lien be put on your home?

I owe $1800 for an MRI. I’m unable to work and have signed up for disability but I owe this medical expense and can’t pay it.

Asked on July 30, 2011 Tennessee

Answers:

MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

A lien can and will most likely be placed on any home you own and that lien will usually only come into play when you sell the home. Then, as part of any cash back to you, the lien will be paid first out of any cash profits to you (assume you have no capital gains issues, as well). If you are concerned about the lien indeed being placed on your property, consider talking to the hospital collections department/billing department from where the bill was sent and explain that you cannot pay it at the moment. See if a small repayment plan can be made. Otherwise, you can take your chance and see if the hospital chooses to simply sell the debt to a third party collection agency, who may or may not meet the statute of limitations. Whatever happens, if a third party agency calls you, do not affirm or confirm the debt. It will lengthen the statute of limitations (the amount of time you can be sued).

MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

A lien can and will most likely be placed on any home you own and that lien will usually only come into play when you sell the home. Then, as part of any cash back to you, the lien will be paid first out of any cash profits to you (assume you have no capital gains issues, as well). If you are concerned about the lien indeed being placed on your property, consider talking to the hospital collections department/billing department from where the bill was sent and explain that you cannot pay it at the moment. See if a small repayment plan can be made. Otherwise, you can take your chance and see if the hospital chooses to simply sell the debt to a third party collection agency, who may or may not meet the statute of limitations. Whatever happens, if a third party agency calls you, do not affirm or confirm the debt. It will lengthen the statute of limitations (the amount of time you can be sued).


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