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Medical Collections Issue
Old 05-06-2019, 01:58 PM   #1
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Medical Collections Issue

Wonder the best way to handle this. DS has received a collections letter for an ambulance bill that is owed but for which he never received a bill. I actually attempted to pay this bill through Instamed earlier this year but the City (who runs the ambulance service) never accepted the payment. I don't mind paying the bill but I don't want to see DS's credit dinged when he never got a bill.

Here is what happened:

My adult son was in an auto accident last fall and was taken by ambulance to the hospital. At the time his drivers license was at our house as he had been staying with us. He was out of town at the time of the accident. The hospital I think had our old address. Since DS didn't have the money to cover the deductible we paid the bills not covered by insurance.

He never got a bill for any of that including for the ambulance. However, the insurer processed the claims. In January he tried to call the number the insurer had on the claim for the ambulance service but that number didn't work (didn't go to anyone who knew anything). The insurer offers payment of bills through Instamed. Basically you pay the provider through the portal on the insurer's website and then Instamed pays the provider. I did this for him on several claims where the insurer showed how much DS's share was. I also did this for the ambulance bill. This was in January.

Recently, Instamed returned the payment to the ambulance provider says that they never collected the payment. No bill has ever been received for this. If a bill was somehow sent to DS's old address (which is our old address) it should have been forwarded to our current address. I guess it is possible that the post office somehow failed to forward the bill or maybe the ambulance service sent it to some other incorrect address.

Today, DS received a collections notice from a collection company addressed to him at our address. So obviously someone figured out this address. I don't mind paying the bill but I am concerned that this will hurt his credit. Given that no bill was received and an attempt was made to pay this 4 months ago, I don't like to see that.

Options that I can think of are to

1. Pay the bill and not worry about the credit hit
2. Have him call the collection agency and say that he will pay if they first send a letter saying that they will remove any derogatory credit information and will not report it in the future
3. Dispute that the debt is delinquent to try to get the negative information removed assuming it is there. That wouldn't keep them from trying to report it in future though.

Anything else? He can't really dispute the debt and doesn't want to. What he wants to dispute is being delinquent.

Has anyone dealt with something like this?
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Old 05-06-2019, 02:14 PM   #2
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Katsmeow, sorry this is happening.

Some health care organizations have their own collection companies, so it may not be a third party. Still, I would definitely go with option 3. I’d write to the ambulance company confirming my willingness to pay (with no collection fees) clearly documenting the address errors they committed and your prior efforts to pay, and requesting they withdraw the credit report as in error. I’d then write the credit bureau(s), challenge the bad report, and request it be removed. I’d then contact the State Attorney General office and file a complaint for harassment and credit report impairment.
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Old 05-06-2019, 02:17 PM   #3
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I'm a little confused reading this it seems as though your issue is with Instamed. Do you owe the insurance the money or the ambulance company? IOW who sold the bill to collections?..I realize it's clear to you but it isn't to me. It seem like the place that sent the bill to collections should be the starting point. I don't think it's the collection agency that reports you delinquent, or maybe I'm wrong it wouldn't be the first time.
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Old 05-06-2019, 02:36 PM   #4
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Sort of. My daughter fainted while in her first year of college. The teacher called an ambulance. Nothing was seriously wrong. She wasn't taken to the hospital. She got a bill at college for the ambulance. I called the ambulance company and gave the insurance information. I was told that most of the time, the insurance company doesn't pay, but sometimes they do. I was assured they would submit a claim to the insurance company.

Within a few days, my daughter said she got another bill marked second notice. I mistakenly told her to ignore it. I figured it was too soon to determine the claim was denied by the insurance company. Months later, she got a collection notice without ever having gotten any other bill from the ambulance company. I felt bad for telling her to ignore the second notice. So, I picked your choice #1. I paid the bill from the collection company and called it a day. I would have paid the second notice from the ambulance company, if I'd have had reason to believe it indicated a claim denial. It just came too fast after I'd given the insurance info. I thought they'd send another bill.

Bottom line, she was delinquent, although unintentionally. If her credit took a hit, I have no idea. I agree that it's not fair. I don't know how anyone can prove they didn't get a bill.

Here's an option 4: Don't open mail addressed to your adult son, especially if he's not living at your address. Contact him to let him know about it. Forward it to him. If he's nearby, have him come over to pick it up. Or, you can write on the envelope, "NOT AT THIS ADDRESS, RETURN TO SENDER".

I have 2 adult kids living at home and I won't open their mail. I'll help them with it after they open it, if necessary. My job is to help them gradually learn to deal with their own stuff. My daughter had foot surgery last year and we paid the bills. But I still made her open them first.
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Old 05-06-2019, 02:40 PM   #5
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Is this a thing with ambulance companies ?
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Old 05-06-2019, 02:51 PM   #6
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Is the bill that you have in hand from a collection agency or from the provider? We recently received a bill from a provider that was fashioned to appear as if it was from a collection agency.... presumably as an inducement for the recipient to pay the bill... but it was really from the provider.

It sounds like you are not disputing the bill since the insurer accepted it and I presume that the amount you owe is for any deductible and is the insurer's negotiated rate with the ambulance service.

Assuming that you are ok with the amount of the bill (same as insurer's EOB) I would call the provider (ambulance service's billing department), explain that you never received a bill because it was sent to the wrong address and was not forwarded, and then pay it there and then by credit card and ask them to remove any stain on your son's credit record.
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Old 05-06-2019, 02:59 PM   #7
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Is this a thing with ambulance companies ?

Yes... and some charge a huge amount... it was on one of those news magazine shows like 60 minutes...


I doubt they reported it to the credit agency... I have gotten some overdue bills over the years for my mom and none have ever been reported... most are like you say, never getting the original bill...


Heck, I got a call from a hospital she was in for payment and I said I never got the bill nor any proof that it was submitted to insurance... please send me that info and I will pay the bill.... never got that info either and no other calls..
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Old 05-06-2019, 03:09 PM   #8
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We had a call from a collection agency many years ago. Threatening, insisting on payment, etc. For a health insurance bill that we never saw. They were persistent, but I refused to send them a nickle if they would not produce a bill. Turns out, a hospital had submitted a claim to our insurance company that was not coded correctly. It was rejected, then resubmitted, then rejected again. Rather than fix it, the hospital sent it to collections. It took a while to get both the hospital and the insurance company on the phone in a conference call, but that finally did resolve it.

I never did see a copy of the bill, and apparently it was resolved between the hospital and the insurance company.

Given a hospital, a collection agency, and United Healthcare- the only party not represented in that meeting of the den of thieves was an annuity salesman! Of course, I was right there in the mud with the hogs...
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Old 05-06-2019, 07:06 PM   #9
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I'm a little confused reading this it seems as though your issue is with Instamed. Do you owe the insurance the money or the ambulance company? IOW who sold the bill to collections?..I realize it's clear to you but it isn't to me. It seem like the place that sent the bill to collections should be the starting point..
The Ambulance company is actually the City. The insurance company paid 80% of the bill. The remaining 20% is owed.

Bear in mind -- DS has never gotten a bill for the ambulance claim at all. The only way we even know the above is because of going online to the insurer webpage and seeing the EOB.

No bill of any kind has ever been received. However, the insurer offers the ability to pay any provider bill through Instamed. Instamed takes your money then offers it to the provider (who usually takes it). In this case, the City just never accepted the money so Instamed refunded it. I have no beef with Instamed. It can't force providers to take the money.

The problem with contacting the City is that once it goes to collections you can pay off the original provider and the collection agency keeps chasing you for it. I have heard horror stories where someone pays the original provider who had sold it to the collection agency and so the agency keeps coming after the person.


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Is the bill that you have in hand from a collection agency or from the provider? We recently received a bill from a provider that was fashioned to appear as if it was from a collection agency.... presumably as an inducement for the recipient to pay the bill... but it was really from the provider.

It sounds like you are not disputing the bill since the insurer accepted it and I presume that the amount you owe is for any deductible and is the insurer's negotiated rate with the ambulance service.

Assuming that you are ok with the amount of the bill (same as insurer's EOB) I would call the provider (ambulance service's billing department), explain that you never received a bill because it was sent to the wrong address and was not forwarded, and then pay it there and then by credit card and ask them to remove any stain on your son's credit record.
The letter is from a third party company that helps munipalities with billing and collections.

But, yes, the problem is not with the debt. Have tried to pay the bill and the municipality has never sent a bill. The municipality is a large city so have no idea who to contact on this. But probably will start with the collection agency and see if can work it out. Just don't want DS to get an unfair credit ding.
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Old 05-06-2019, 07:13 PM   #10
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Got it now the government is involved too...May the force be with you...
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Old 05-06-2019, 07:59 PM   #11
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Got it now the government is involved too...May the force be with you...
What is annoying about it is that DS says he gave the hospital his address (our house). He gave them his drivers license so they had all that information.

The odd thing was that he never got a single bill from anyone. He actually called the hospital and asked to pay and they took payment over the phone, no bill. Most of the other providers I just paid through Instamed and they all processed the payment.

But the City didn't process the Instamed payment. I do have a copy of the receipt showing the payment to the City in January, but then it got reversed months later when the City didn't process the payment.

The City (or at least the collection agency) clearly knows the address since they sent this letter to DS. The letter doesn't actually say that the City ever sent a prior bill. It just says he has an overdue balance. It is entirely possible that no bill was ever sent anywhere and this is the first bill. Just aggravating.
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Old 05-06-2019, 08:14 PM   #12
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We were in a similar situation last year. DH received notice from a collection agency for an electric bill we owed. (It was for a house we rent out. We were between tenants, but the electric was still on.). We never saw a bill. I found out later it was sent to a previous property manager, who probably just threw it away. So we never knew we owed anything.

I called the electric company who said it wasn’t their problem and it was now with collections so there was nothing they could do.

So I called the collections company....and they were actually very helpful. I explained the situation and told them we’d happily pay it, but we didn’t want it on our credit report. They said “no problem, if you can pay us today, we can have it removed. Give it 30-60 days and it should be cleared. If not, here’s my name and the case number, you can call me back”.

DHs credit was cleared 30 days later.

I’d give the collections agency a call. If you explain you never received a bill, have been trying desperately to find someone to pay, and pay it off, it should be easy to get it cleared off his credit report.
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Old 05-06-2019, 08:48 PM   #13
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So I called the collections company....and they were actually very helpful. I explained the situation and told them we’d happily pay it, but we didn’t want it on our credit report. They said “no problem, if you can pay us today, we can have it removed. Give it 30-60 days and it should be cleared. If not, here’s my name and the case number, you can call me back”.

DHs credit was cleared 30 days later.

I’d give the collections agency a call. If you explain you never received a bill, have been trying desperately to find someone to pay, and pay it off, it should be easy to get it cleared off his credit report.
This is helpful. When you called them did you get them to tell you in writing first that they would remove it or did you pay and hope they would do what they said they would do. I would prefer to get in writing but not sure they will do that. In this case, I don't even know if anything has been put on his credit report. Possibly it has not been.
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Old 05-06-2019, 10:26 PM   #14
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Also, show up at a city council meeting and raise an issue about their process. Maybe call your local TV station to see if they have any interest - many have a 'problem solver' segment. Surely you are not the only victim of this nonsense.
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Old 05-07-2019, 06:40 AM   #15
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This is helpful. When you called them did you get them to tell you in writing first that they would remove it or did you pay and hope they would do what they said they would do. I would prefer to get in writing but not sure they will do that. In this case, I don't even know if anything has been put on his credit report. Possibly it has not been.
No, I didn’t ask. I didn’t get the feeling they would....but I can’t say for sure.

I may have just been lucky and got a “good one”, but the man I spoke with was very helpful and understanding. When he gave me the info to call back if the credit report wasn’t cleared, I felt it was the best I was going to get. (I did ask what I should do if it didn’t clear in 30-60 days. That’s when he gave me the call back info....).

Of course I was probably the only person he had spoken with all day that actually WANTED to pay him money 😂
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Old 05-07-2019, 08:58 AM   #16
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Wonder the best way to handle this.
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Here's an option 4: Don't open mail addressed to your adult son, especially if he's not living at your address. Contact him to let him know about it. Forward it to him. If he's nearby, have him come over to pick it up. Or, you can write on the envelope, "NOT AT THIS ADDRESS, RETURN TO SENDER".

I have 2 adult kids living at home and I won't open their mail. I'll help them with it after they open it, if necessary. My job is to help them gradually learn to deal with their own stuff. My daughter had foot surgery last year and we paid the bills. But I still made her open them first.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ This, which I already posted above. Am I the only one who is wondering why you're so involved with this matter? Do you have your son's permission to open his mail? If he's not sure what to do, then advise him, and let him handle it.

My adult son with autism needs more guidance than average, but he's become much more capable of handling his affairs, than if I'd kept handling them for him. I believe that's true for most people.
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Old 05-07-2019, 10:17 AM   #17
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Good thing about the credit reporting is that medical collections now have to be 180 days past due before the reporting agencies put it on the report(s) and once paid off, it HAS to be removed from the report. Much more forgiving than other delinquent debt...
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Old 05-07-2019, 11:04 AM   #18
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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ This, which I already posted above. Am I the only one who is wondering why you're so involved with this matter? Do you have your son's permission to open his mail? If he's not sure what to do, then advise him, and let him handle it.

My adult son with autism needs more guidance than average, but he's become much more capable of handling his affairs, than if I'd kept handling them for him. I believe that's true for most people.
I kind of agree but this medical stuff might just be a one-off.. Kat has dealt with this kind of stuff before so she knows the ropes, knows how much hassle it can be and probably figures she can get a quicker solution. I'm not just going to blanket say, step away and him figure it out. It's a stretch to assume her DS doesn't know how to take care of himself.

It's not like she gave the kid her life fortune, she's giving some of her time to fix an aggravating problem that WAS NOT of her son's making.

I certainly don't mind giving some of my time and knowledge to my kids if asked and in every case the kid has learned something about what to do next time it happens.
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Old 05-07-2019, 11:59 AM   #19
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I kind of agree but this medical stuff might just be a one-off.. Kat has dealt with this kind of stuff before so she knows the ropes, knows how much hassle it can be and probably figures she can get a quicker solution. I'm not just going to blanket say, step away and him figure it out. It's a stretch to assume her DS doesn't know how to take care of himself.

It's not like she gave the kid her life fortune, she's giving some of her time to fix an aggravating problem that WAS NOT of her son's making.

I certainly don't mind giving some of my time and knowledge to my kids if asked and in every case the kid has learned something about what to do next time it happens.
I heartily agree. I do the same. I didn't suggest that she should step away and leave him twisting in the wind to figure it out for himself, without any input or assistance at all. I've got 2 young adult kids who still need plenty of guidance. I understand the worry and aggravation, big time.
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Old 05-07-2019, 12:02 PM   #20
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Am I the only one who is wondering why you're so involved with this matter?

I didn't go into a lot of detail on this because it wasn't germane to the question. I am not doing anything without DS's permission. This is a special situation.

When DS had the accident he was still on my health insurance policy. He was also driving a car I owned when he had the accident so the auto insurer dealt with me. Without going into detail, there were auto insurance/health insurance complexities which DS wanted me to help with.

At the time, DS didn't have the money to pay his share of this and we agreed to advance that money and he wanted me to deal with all this. So when the payment was made through Instamed I did it. I am the one who has the receipt showing the payment was made. I am also the one who gets Informed Delivery every day and could (if needed) prove that no mail was ever sent to this address since it doesn't show in the Informed Delivery.

If it wasn't for my involvement in this already I wouldn't be involved now.
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