After my wife went to the doctor I received a bill that I considered wholly unreasonable. There were some serious mistakes on their bill (i.e. charged me for services that never happened) and it took months of phone calls and written requests to get the more egregious mistakes fixed. I still ended up with a bill that is unreasonably high, but of course I'm stuck paying it anyway. For many reasons, I have no desire to simply pay them the outstanding balance. I figured I'd just pay off some (reasonably) small amount each month, which is common in my area. So common in fact, that when I was first looking at the bill in their payment portal, there was an option "Don't want to pay your whole bill? Pay $x amount a month".
When I finished arguing my bill with them I went to the payment portal to submit a partial payment. I couldn't find that "Pay $x a month" button so I simply submitted a payment for a "reasonable" amount. I eventually found that button again, and the requested amount is twice what I sent them.
A few days after sending my payment I received a phone call from the hospital. Unfortunately I don't know what they wanted to say because they refused to talk until I proved I was me (by providing some personal information). I respond to these requests by refusing to identify myself and instead asking for information about their department/extension so I can call them back quickly after I find their number on their website. They refused to provide that information because I had not yet proven that I was me, and claimed they could not give away any information at all. I ended the phone call shortly thereafter and told them that, therefore, if they wanted to inform me of anything, they should mail me.
I have since received confirmation that my partial payment was accepted. What I would like to do right now is simply continue paying them that same amount until the bill is paid off (about 1.5 years). What I don't want to do is call them (I've been on the phone with them enough and it is always painful). I also don't want to get surprised with interest charges or threats of collections. My expectation (hope?) is that, legally, their acceptance of my payment implies consent to a partial payment plan. If I ever do get a phone call from them I would like to know if there are any applicable laws about this, or if I should plan on changing my payment plan if need be. I suppose I can boil it down like this:
Does a contract have to be formally signed to establish a partial payment plan? If not, what conditions must be met for a partial payment plan to be effectively agreed upon by both parties?