Is that bill on the way to collections?

PHOENIX -
You owe a debt, and you're paying it. But what happens when you're not paying it fast enough?
 
Viewer Suzette says she's stuck with an $839 emergency room bill because she hasn't hit her deductible.
 
She's been paying what she can afford--$50 per month--but says the hospital has threatened to send her to collections if it isn't paid off in 6 months.
 
She asks, "Can they legally do that if I am making the payments that I can afford?
 
The short answer is yes.
 
It seems unfair but, even if you are making payments on a bill you can still be sent to collections.
 
Before that happens you may have a few options.
 
-Apply for a hardship program.  Many non-profit hospitals have discounted care based on income--it's worth your time to find out if you qualify.
 
-Start negotiating. Can you find a way to pay a lower lump sum?  Some hospitals have patient billing advocates who may be able to help set up a payment plan for you.
 
-A zero percent APR credit card is an option .But only if you pay it off before interest accrues.
 
If all else fails, prepare to take the hit.
 
That means, if you're planning to apply for credit--do it before the bill goes into collections.
 
Go to the Let Joe Know Facebook page and let me know what you think.
 
Need my help?
 
Call volunteers with the Assistance League of Phoenix at 855-323-1515, email me at Joe@abc15.com or contact me on Twitter.
 
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