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Consistent payments - could debt be sent to collectors?

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Several years ago my friend got into accident and was taken to the hospital. Back then, she didn’t have an insurance and the hospital invoiced her in full. She tried to negotiate the bill based on low income, but the hospital refused to help because she was out of the state resident (accident happened in OR and she is the resident in WA).


Since she wasn’t able to pay the bill in full, or even afford installments the hospital requested, she was paying as much as she could afford. Despite the payments were lower then set by the hospital, she was making consistent payments for over five years, never missing a payment. All this time the hospital has been accepting these payments without any problems. However, just recently they started requesting bigger payments and threatened to send it to the collections if she will not start paying what they are asking for.


Her questions is: since she has been consistently paying (less then requested and the hospital was fine with that), does the hospital has a right to send it to the debt collectors?


Thank you,

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