“Like it or not, there are still de facto debtors’ prisons for collection of all kinds of debts, including medical debt, in the United States today.”
By Casey Wood Santora
On December 12, 2019 Peter Holland spoke with Dr. Travis Stork from the nationally syndicated talk show, “The Doctors.” The topic: medical debt and how some Americans may be sent to jail for $200 or $300 of debt. But, both Peter and Dr. Stork think medical debt can’t be treated the same as other consumer debt.
Peter points out that often you don’t have a choice for the cost of service in an emergency situation when you may be unconscious and not able to make health care decisions for yourself. Dr. Stork agrees and underscores this with an example of a car loan versus medical debt. For instance, when you sign a car loan you know what you are going to pay for a $15,000 car. However, that is not true when you suddenly owe $50,000 to $100,000 in medical bills because of a catastrophic event. Here is the segment:
Melissa, a single mom of three children, describes her experience of spending three days in jail over a five year old ambulance bill that she says she was not notified that she owed. Peter goes on to speak about “Sewer Service” meaning the process server hired to serve the papers may not have delivered the papers notifying a person to appear in court. In some cases of sewer service people can end up with a warrant for a body attachment. Peter says, “Essentially, debt collectors are using the court system as an arm of the collections industry and that is wrong.” Here is the segment below:
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