A visit to the doctor is not something to which most children look forward. Most children are concerned about what the doctor will do to them and not with how the bill is going to be paid. But today, debt collectors are harassing adults for medical debt that was incurred when they were minors. The legal obligation for medical care provided to a minor can be a difficult question to resolve.
Minors are considered to lack the legal capacity to enter into a contract. The law in most states permits the minor to avoid any contract entered into prior to reaching the age of majority. Because medical expenses are the result of a contract between the medical provider and the patient, attempts to collect the medical debt from a patient who reaches the age of maturity after the debt was incurred would appear to be in violation of state laws that permit the minor to avoid obligation. Debt collectors who try to collect debt from adults for medical treatments rendered when the person was a minor could be in violation of state and federal debt collection practices laws, including the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
Unfortunately, the issue of liability for medical debts for treatment to minors differs from one state to another. Some states might allow a doctor to bring a lawsuit for medical treatment provided to a minor on legal theories other than contract law.
A person who is contacted by a debt collector concerning a medical debt for treatment that was provided when the person was a minor should contact a bankruptcy attorney. The attorney can explain the person’s legal obligations under state and federal laws, including available options to eliminate the debt or reduce it.
Source: The Huffington Post, “Medical bills & minors: What you should know,” Gerri Detweiler, Dec. 10, 2012