I never realized how much they think they can charge you after a trip to the psych ward. It’s almost laughable. They label you manic and psychotic dealing with bipolar disorder (also known as manic depression) and they neglect to take into account how a large bill might fare on one’s own mental health. In the last four mental hospital visits I’ve been in, I’ve entered each visit with many different problems. One mainstay issue I tend to always have is the financial burden I am currently dealing with. In other words, I’m stressed out because I’m barely treading water financially. In summation, hospitals are treating me for mania and should be aware that after a manic episode, depression is usually soon to follow. Furthermore, any bill is even more detrimental to one’s health and can leave a patient in worse shape than when they sought help originally.
After the visit to the psych ward, the bill from the hospital visit never ceases to make its way to your mailbox. Recently, and in the span of less than three years, I found my way into four different psych wards, sometimes without even agreeing to admit myself (I don’t know how or if this is even legal). The total bill for each of these hospital visits including the emergency room psych evaluation (which is often done at a different hospital), always exceeds $5,000. For a person who lives paycheck to paycheck paying these high hospital fees is simply impossible. The hospital more often than not, and in my case always, sells off the debt to a debt collector. The patient no longer owes the hospital money, but is, in fact, liable to pay a debt collection agency.
Hospitals don’t always have the best interest of the patient in mind. Once you get out of their care these hospitals (and I don’t blame them) do their best to get paid. I applied for financial assistance to each of the four hospitals that helped treat me for mania or at least checked me into inpatient facilities. Only one of the hospitals granted financial assistance, and my hospital bill at this place dropped from over $6,000 to just $300. The other hospitals never even responded to my request. My guess is that they made more money off selling the debt to debt collectors than making sure the patient pays only what is sustainable for him or her. So sure enough, they went about selling the hospital debt to debt collection agencies of which I now deal with to this day.
Debt collection agencies are ruthless but lack information. When an agency calls me, I simply tell them that I am not able to pay any amount of debt off at this time and am also unable to arrange any type of payment plan moving forward. If you say this right away, the only real move a debt collection agency can make is to say, ‘well, we’ll be seeing you in court’ -- none have taken my case that far… yet -- Oftentimes the caller of the agency is really just trying to pry for information about your particular financial situation so they can gain leverage knowing that they can come after something of yours in some kind of legal action. Never give them shit. I had one debt collector ask me if I had any friends or family that I could ask for the money. I went off for about five minutes telling him how insulted I was for him to suggest such an idea. I explained to him that by asking me such a question, he was really just asking me to take an empty McDonald’s cup to the corner of the street and start begging people for pennies; then go about giving those pennies to him. The debt collector and agency crossed the line of decency and committed a flagrant foul. They have yet to call back.
I can be summoned in court for up to five years by the debt collection agency before they can no longer take legal action coming after me for money. I plan on waiting it out. In the end, I would know your situation and make a judgement call on how to handle your own debt. My route is probably not the best solution for all those out there.