Medical debts and 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.”
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.
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 Lawyer.
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)