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Medical debt now in collections and can't afford, what should I do?

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Hello @Why Chat and other fellow forum members, hope you had a great Christmas.
I’m in a rather bad situation right now, with a big part of that being related to medical debt. Around 9 months ago in March I went to the emergency room (in California where I used to live) due to significant chest pains, and had a lot of tests done on me. Thankfully it turned out to be nothing serious, but I ended up with a rather large bill ($10k) at the end of it.
My insurance at the time paid around half of it I think, which left me on the hook for around $5000 or so. I perhaps quite stupidly never called the financial assistance line at the time as I thought my yearly income at the time would be too high to qualify. I set up a payment plan through the instructions in the letter they sent over for $350 a month, and usually paid more than that, eventually getting the balance down to about $2500 by August.
At this point I lost my job, and had to move to another state to stay at my parents' and get everything in my life figured out again. Again stupidly, I stopped paying the monthly amount, and procrastinated calling them to give them a new address - mainly because I’d have to negotiate a new plan that I could afford lower than $350 and I was nervous to so I kept putting it off.
A few days ago, I got a voicemail that seemed to be from a collection agency. The beginning was cut off, but the part of the message that got recorded seemed to say something like call us immediately to resolve this, etc. I wasn’t sure how long until they send it to a CA, but since I last paid in August it seems plausible they could’ve done it by now. I haven’t seen anything show up on my credit report about it. As far as I know, any mail for me that’s been going to my old address has been being marked “return to sender” and sent back, so phone would be the only way that they could contact me I'd think.
After browsing reddit and this site for a few hours, I’m trying to figure out the best path forward. Finances are ultra-tight right now and I don’t have very much money coming in to pay even normal bills.
It seems like these are the current options available to me:
  1. Call the hospital / CA, give them my new address, and hope I can work out a payment plan for the remaining $2500. (but a lot of forum posts seem to say this is not a good idea)
  2. Follow the Why Chat HIPPA guides and send the letter sequences, but to be honest I don’t understand how they apply as it seems like they’re for debts that you’ve paid already and are trying to get off your credit report. Sorry if I’m missing something big here, I’m still trying to learn this all very quickly.
  3. Wait 7? years for the SOL, hope I don’t get sued, take a big credit hit, and have it go away?
I would really appreciate any advice about what I should do going forward. Since nothing’s on my credit reports yet it seems like maybe I have some time and can do something proactive to handle it. In a perfect world the debt would get removed, or at least be heavily reduced somehow. Thank you so much.

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Follow the guides


https://whychat.me/GUIDE HIPAA PROGRAM.html


Get your EOMBs (explanation of medical benefits) from your insurance Co. for the medical services in March. Check to see what was billed, what was allowed, what was paid and how much was left as "patient responsibility".  Check your records to see how much of that amount you already paid.


Once you know how much you actually owed and what the actual balance is you will have a better opportunity to deal with the situation.

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