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Your rights and options concerning medical debts

Can debt collectors request copies of my credit reports?Medical debts are amongst the most disputed and error filled debts there are. Medical bills fall under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act because medical debt meets the definition of a “debt” under rule 803(5):

This rule defines “debt” as, “a consumer’s obligation to pay money arising out of a transaction in which the money, property, insurance, or services are primarily for personal, family, or household purposes.”

The rule goes on to state the term “debt” also includes overdue obligations such as medical bills that were originally payable in full within a certain time period (e.g., 30 days); dishonored checks that were tendered in payment for goods or services acquired or used primarily for personal, family, or household purposes; and student loans, because the consumer is purchasing “services” (education) for personal use.

The term “debt” does not include unpaid taxes, fines, alimony, or tort claims, because they are not debts incurred from a “transaction (involving purchase of) property . . . or services . . . for personal, family or household purposes.”

Medical Insurance:

Two common mistakes:

  1. Thinking that your insurance company is responsible for paying your medical bills and,
  2. Thinking medical providers are required to bill your insurance company.

The truth is, consumers are responsible for their own medical debts. This means consumers must ensure their insurance company is billed in a timely manner and billed correctly. It also means they must follow up in a timely manner to ensure the medical bill gets paid.

As a convenience for you, most medical providers will offer to bill your insurance company. Accepting their offer does not relieve you of the responsibility of ensuring the medical bill gets paid. It’s not uncommon for medical providers to submit medical bills after an insurance company’s deadline for filing. In some cases, the provider may, for a number of odd reasons, not submit the medical bill at all. Regardless of the reason, the bottom line is that the consumer is still responsible for paying off the medical debt.

In some cases, your insurance company may reject the bill or flat out refuse to pay. If this happens, the medical provider will expect you to pay the bill and, unless you’ve disputed the debt, you are legally expected to pay the bill in a timely manner. The fact that your insurance company did not pay is not the medical provider’s concern! You may have to argue with your insurance company or go through dispute resolution but, the medical provider is entitled to timely payment. You may have to pay the provider yourself and then work with your insurance company to get reimbursed.

debt relief

Medical Debts

If you believe a a medial bill is being collected wrongly, or you believe you are a victim of illegal or unfair debt collection practices, submit your information to a FREE* Fair Debt Case Review.

Always read the medical provider paperwork (contract for services rendered) carefully!

Medical Bill Disputes:
Medical bills and old medical debts that you consider invalid can be disputed just like any other debt.
Disputing Medical Debts

Just like any debt, interest can be added to medical bills IF the original contract or paperwork allows it AND your state law does not prohibit it. Even if the original paperwork allows it, ALWAYS check your state law to make sure you are not being overcharged. Some states limit the amount of interest and the amount of collection fees.

Statute of Limitations on Medical Debts:
Medical debts are generally considered closed-ended credit contracts with a definite pay-off time limit. Unless you have a separate agreement, medical debts are usually payable at the time services are rendered or, in some cases within 30 days. Check your State’s Statute of Limitations (SoL)

confidential informationThere may be instances where discussing your situation over a public forum could potentially compromise your interests. On these occasions we will contact you directly via email in order to answer your inquiry in a confidential manner.

32 comments

  1. Recently as I left one job and went to another I was without healthcare insurance and had to visit an emergency room for 9 staples. I received a bill from the hospital but never got one from the treating physicians group. I received a letter from Trevor Solutions In another state that was vague about who they represented. I contacted them and they said they could not give out information about the group they represented as it would be a HIPPA violation then proceeded to ask me all sorts of questions. I was not comfortable giving important information to some by phone as they were not forthcoming about what the reason for contacting me was. I soon started receiving phone calls and tried returning them but never could reach an agent even though the automated answering system stated their hours of operation. I eventually got a third and final warning letter with a law firms emblem on the top stating it was my last opportunity to cooperate by rendering the required information. I then contacted Trevor Solutions and tried to ask them for an itemized bill of the debt I owed. The agent claimed he didn’t have to send me one and I asked how much he would accept that day to stop the calls and he claimed he wouldn’t accept payments. when I asked how I was to pay for the debt he answered they would go to collections. I eventually got the physicians group, Schumakers Doctor Group to send me an itemized bill which I received at about 72 days after treatment. They were puzzled as to why I never was sent a bill as Trevor Solutions was to work on the subjugation of charges with me. The hospital bill had some double and false charges that I was able to dispute in person but the people I am to dispute the physicians group bill with is Trevor Solutions who says they cant share information with me and doesn’t have to send a bill to me and while they wont take any payments from me will collect through their in house lawyers. I still have 22 days to file a dispute about the bill the treating doctor has filed with his physicians group and have concerns about how to prevent this from going to collections as it seems to be the path Trevor Solutions wishes to take. Any help or advice on this matter would be greatly appreciated. I await your response and thank you for your time

    • Amongst the vast array of credit charges consumers incur, medical bills are amongst the most inaccurate and ripe for dispute. And if charges are deemed inaccurate, or validation processes not followed, medical bills turn into FDCPA cases that can earn consumers up to $1,000 or more, plus a lawyer at no charge to the consumer. Now even though everyone would like collections to be perfect, they are not, and the this consumer protection law was enacted to be used. Learn info on disputing debt collections here or just hire LawCent to perform all your debt collection and credit report disputes for as little as $20 a month. If you aren’t satisfied with the services, cancel before you pay the prior month’s bill — even after they send the disputes! Sign up through this site and pay One Cent to hire the LawCent legal team. Learn more about LawCent.

  2. My insurance company didn’t pay claims for a good period of time because it said I had 2 insurance companies, after I submitted prof I didn’t they said they would pay the bills, I have over 20 accounts in collections because they never paid them, when I called they said they were suppose to be paid back in June of 2014. I was denied credit because of the collections. What can I do?

  3. I know there is a limit on the time a doctor must submit a bill to the insurance companies but is there a time statute on how long after insurance pays before doctor can send bills for copay? If an ins co pays within 60 days shouldn’t the copay be billed to pt immediately not nine months later?

  4. Similar to Fran’s question dated 5/28/15….How about receiving a bill for an additional co-pay from the provider EIGHT YEARS later?

  5. Michelle Jordan

    So my daughter had to have emergency surgery in March. I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the end of April. We now owe money to several different medical facilities.
    I have one facility that does not want to work with us on the repayment plan because we make to much money. I have explained to them that I am going to be out of work for a number of weeks possibly months so our income is going to be substantially less and I don’t want to commit to something that I will ultimately default on.
    I just want to know what my rights are when it comes to repaying. Am I required to pay what they demand or am I legally able to pay what I can?
    I don’t want this to go to collections but I just can’t pay what they are demanding. As it is I have been out of work for 2.5 weeks this time around.

  6. It is 7/06/2015, doctor’s office is try to collect for bills from 2011 and 2012. As far as I know they were paid.

  7. hi i was sued by a hospital listed as plaintiff on case i called hospital and they sent me a itemized bill for the 9 accounts that had all a zero balance and a bad debt write off listed. i have a letter from plaintiff aka hospital stating i owe them zero dollars its my understanding of the law that company suing me a collection agency is false representing themselves and it should be fraud and thrown out of court due to a number of reasons i even have to send the check to them and i am not allowed to pay hospital that is plaintiff. if i am being sued for a debt that a collector has bought or picked up i have to be sued by that collector is this not true?

  8. Kimber Daugherty

    My husband just passed away after several years of being ill. I have a collection company telling me I am responsible for his medical debts that were not covered by insurance. I live in Colorado. Does anyone know if I am legally responsible.

  9. I have a few medical collections bills on my credit report from a hospital visit. I never received an itemized bill, only bills from collections agency. The hospital/medical office is closed and they filed for bankruptcy. Am i still liable for the bills to the collection agency?

  10. Hi, I am a resident of Ohio and in 2011 I was vacationing in Florida. I had recently been diagnosed with adult onset diabetes and had an issue that required immediate attention. At the emergency clinic I provided proof of insurance and a photocopy was made of my insurance card. Treatment was rendered. I never got a bill from the clinic. I did, however, get notice that my insurance had paid the ER room charges. Some time later I was contacted by collection to pay the physician’s bill because I had fraudulently told them I was a Florida medicaid recipient. THey had billed medicaid and it was denied. Still, I had not received any billing on these charges and was unaware they were due and owing. I contacted the physicians providing the service and after negotiation was told that the debt would be discharged because it was their error that medicaid was billed and the time to submit to my insurance had expired. The physicians group accepted the responsibility and was to have discharged the debt. All of this was communicated to the collection agency. THey were aware that the debt was discharged. Now, I have been contacted again by the same agency attempting to collect this debt and from someone who says he is an attorney and will be pursuing this legally. Unfortunately, I don’t know where the paperwork is that documents this discharge of debt!!!!!! I believed it was over and done. What are my options. My insurance coverage had been with the same provider for many, many years and they had stated that if the claim had been submitted timely it would have been paid. Additionally, I know the correct information had been submitted because the hospital facility was paid …..

  11. I have several outstanding medical bills turned over to collection agencies because I filled for and won my disability claim. Originally my Medicare part A and B were 3/15 and 9/14. I made a deal with Medicare to pay 6 months back premium for coverage for both parts to be effective 9/14. Many of my health providers are refusing to refile the claims because they have been turned over to collection agencies and some of the agencies will file but some will not. I do not have the resources to pay the collection agencies. The claims would be paid if they were refiled. Do facilities that contract to accept Medicare not have the obligation to file the claims for patients with Medicare? Please advise.

  12. a third party collection agency is charging interest on my medical bill when i never agree while receiving services at the hospital for any interest rates. can the debt collector charge me interest on my bill when i never agree at the hospital or signed anything stating this. i leave in california

  13. I received a medical bill this month for the delivery of my son. The bill is 19 months after delivery. Upon contacting the insurance company, I learn that the insurance company received a claim two weeks after delivery. The company paid their portion two days later. The hospital did not send a bill for the remainder due until 19 months later. I have contacted the hospital and they are blaming it on a computer issue. Please help!

  14. I live in Spring Hill, FL. Back on 12/28/14 I took my infant daughter to the ER. At the time I had thru work a Humana HSA Health acct with a $12,000 deductible. Upon leaving the hospital I explained to the clerk that I wanted to pay the entire bill or what is contracted thru my Humana HSA, (I paid $496.00) as not to recieve any surprise bills later on. Fast fowrd to 10/17/2015 I receive a bill dated 12/28/2014. When I called they told me that this was the charge for the Dr (I didn’t see the Dr I saw a nurse practicioner), and that what I paid that day was for the ER visit only. They also explained that it was sent to my Ins but was kicked back because it was applied to my $12,000 deductible and that I sould have been told, that I would receive a separate bill for this. The bill is for $524.00. I don’t agree with this practice of not being told anything and receiveing this bill almost a year later??? Do I have any options? Either disputing, not paying, or paying a less amount. Thank you!

  15. I just received a statement for $800 worth of medical bills that are 2 years old. The physician’s office never sent bills before now. Am I obligated to still pay 2 years later?

  16. I had a back surgery and after 6 months my surgeon referred me to a physical therapy, I went to this location referred by my friend and i asked them if they are Tricare network, and they said they are in network, so i did my 10 session and after my 10 session they sent me a bill that i had to pay my copay, as a tricare holder for years I never had to pay out of pocket any copay since tricare pays majority and the network provider will adjust to the portion if tricare pays shorts. so they billed me $280 and I refused to pay and they sent me to collection and now i received a court letter that they are sued me for $280 fee plus additional interest and attorney’s fee of $200 it end up costing $600

    what should i do..??

  17. In August 2006, I got hurt at the local Fair inTennessee where I live. I fell into a trench that had been dug for an electrical line 3 YEARS earlier but was never filled in properly. Yet the Fair and the City choose to have their exhibitor’s parking in this field where no one could see the trench (went up to my waiste.) I sued for getting hurt and for my medical bills. In November of 2008, we settled out if court. The lawyer got her 33% up front. I got a good portion of the remaining money, but the money set aside for the medical bills were put in a bank account at my lawyer’s bank. There has been no suits against me for said medical bills. Lawyer is saying I have to wait until November 2016 in order to obtain the remaining money from the suit. I was on the understanding that I could get the money 8 years after the bills we’re incurred. Now I’m being told It’s 8 years from the time the law suit was settled all the while the lawyer is drawing interest on my money. It takes me 2 to 3 weeks to get someone on the phone at my lawyer’s office and keep not getting a straight answer. In Tennessee, when can a medical bill collector no longer take me to court and when should I have access to money set aside for said bills?

  18. I have a past due bill of about $750 with an old family doctor and received a past due notice with a notice to send to collections by December 20th 2015. I spoke to the billing company back in mid December and she said that if I had a dispute, which I do, to contact the doctor. His wife does the accounting and I have left several messages with her and voice messages on the doctor’s cell phone and office phone. Each message, I asked the doctor to call me back so that I can take care of my bill. He has not called me back in 3 weeks. What are my rights?

  19. I just called to make my appt with an ob dr that delivered my son in 2008 and performEd my hysterectomy in 2009. Her office staff stated she could not make my appt due to the fact that I have a collection balance. Which I had no knowledge of. I had two insurances at the time of my procedures. She said insurance didn’t pay everything. And I would have to agree to pay at least 100.00 at time of service or she could not make my appt. She put me on hold and said she would be back she would ask the credit manager if it was okay to make my appt without me agreeing to pay at least 100.00. I have been off work since before Christmas and now I may need another surgery. Now she says I will have to wait until Monday and she will call me back. She can’t make my appt yet. She couldn’t get a hold of her. I told her I had two insurances then. And I have two now. She still can’t do anything

  20. I have been contacted by our family medical centers billing dept about past due funds. I was told that any upcoming appointments at the clinic for my child who is asthmatic and under a 5 year environmental allergy treatment. They stated that unless the $30.00 owed was paid in full he will not be seen by the physician. Is this legal? I have the 30 dollars and would have gladly paid it had they not presented this in a manner of a threat. I basically told them what they can do with themselves. I am furious and this has left not feeling well at all.

  21. quick rundown. supposedly failed to pay a debt from a medical infussion. The debt was sold to johnson Mark LLC. They have contacted us and asked for payment. We agreed to pay $50 per month on the account. They continued to contact us and tell us they want us to pay more. Our budget can’t handle that was our reply. They threatened lawsuit or legal action if we didn’t pay more. We told them we are willing to pay but it will take time as we have this amount that is available to do so. They have now filed a lawsuit. The plaintiff is a company we have never heard of (not the medical company) and the only date stated is the date in which this plaintiff obtained the debt from the medical company. This date is almost at the sol and I believe is well past it if based on time of service and last payment to original debtor. Summons is State of Utah, no case number, no judge, marked at the bottom is the note “This communication is from a debt collector. If you wish to resolve this matter please call Johnson Mark LLC at 801-285-5700. Ref# xxxxxxx.

    Any advice welcome. Interested in initial consult and possible representation.

  22. I reviewed a call and a bill from a doctors office dating from 2008-2009. No payments have been made to them. The last ipayments from me and the insurance company was in 2009. Am I still obligated to pay this bill? Can they sue me for this?

  23. I went to ER on FL Hospital on 4-26-2015 for a flu-like symptom. I end being hospitalized because the blood work came out so bad that the doctor let me in the hospital for a week looking for a “cancer”. I was submitted to more blood work, X-rays, MRI, and so on. Finally they never found the cancer and they never treat me for my original flu like symptom that was just a chronic bronchitis. Now I have a ton of debts because my insurance didn’t pay on time. My debts are on collection now and I am desperate and depress. I just need to know what to do next.

  24. We recently received a sizable bill from the hospital for the anesthesiologist for my wife’s thyroid surgery 15 months after the surgery. A small amount had been deducted for an insurance payment. We’ve been told by several friends that there is a deadline for providers to send bill to patients, after which the patient is not responsible for paying that bill. I’ve not been able to confirm this. Is there a such a deadline? We live in Wisconsin.

  25. I have a hospital bill over 13 years old. I live in Iowa. At the time I had Medicaid and was pregnant and had lost my baby. Now, fastforward to 2014 My paycheck gets garnished 25% from an attorney who works for the Collections Agency hired by the hospital. I go to court to get it Quashed but only get it reduced to 50% . Yes this helped and once it was expired they collected $1150. I have heard nothing from then until 2 months ago my check is surprisingly garnished again by the same company for the same debt and nothing notated that they recieved the 1,150.00 in 2014. i have proof of all deductions from paystubs. I go BACK to court again they only reduce it to 50% and I am again in this vicious cycle of paying for a debt that I know is already paid for. I NEED HELP GETTING THIS STOPPED ASAP. I AM A MOTHER OF 4 CHILDREN LIVING CHECK TO CHECK AND NOW FACE BEING HOMELESS. PLEASE IS THERE SOMETHING YOU CAN DO??

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