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Fighting A Hospital Bill.

Discuss the legalities of Bankruptcy Law

Fighting A Hospital Bill.

Postby GwynethPaltrow » Thu Nov 24, 2016 9:04 am

I went to the hospital over 3 years ago where I was over-treated and lied to by the hospital staff.  They billed me thousands of dollars, most of it was fraudulent.  They refused to show me an itemized bill, and when they did they just sent internal hospital codes.  I wrote letters, made phone calls, but they refused to address the billing issue until I reported them to the BBB.  They realized much of what was on my bill was fraudulent, reduced it by a third, but they didn't go far enough.  I finally received an itemized bill, and I tried to get them to address the discrepancies, but they refused again.  I spoke to a member of local press who told me my story had legs, and he called the CEO of the hospital who then wanted to speak with me.  The CEO explained that I would need to pay extra for uninsured people(because I had insurance but they wouldn't cover this bill for some reason).  I contacted the state authority who went to the hospital and performed an audit, verifying my claims as substantiated.  I received an angry letter from the CEO telling me since they were forced to remove some things, they were going to add some other things back, and my bill remained the same.  During all this, their billing department has been constantly threatening me, to turn me over to a collections agency, etc.  I want to fight this out of principle.  I am willing to pay a reasonable amount but not what they are charging, and they refuse.  If they send me to a collections agency, what are my options?  Can I just write a letter to the credit bureaus explaining my side of the story?  Will my credit take a hit?  Anything I can do to minimize what might happen?  How to handle the collections agency if they call?  Any advice at all would be most appreciated.  Thank you.

ANSWER: Hi Chris:

My guess is that it is likely this will only be resolved with litigation, so you need to prepare accordingly.  Obviously, obtain and keep any information that proves your case and all contact attempts.

There is little you can do to prevent them from actually reporting it to a collection agency and you really cannot sue until they do because that will be your main cause for damages.  You can't win a lawsuit of this type without damages.

When they report it to a collection agency, the agency should send you a letter.  In that letter, it should mention in the fine print about you having 30 days to respond disputing the balance.  You should do so via certified letter.  This is a critical step.  After that 30 days goes by is when they typically actually report to the bureaus.  In your letter you should include any documentation that proves your case.

Once it's reported you can send a letter of explanation to each credit bureau.  Every time a creditor gets your credit report, they will get your statement as well.  However, this will NOT reduce the negative ramifications on your credit score.

Once it is reported, you can take steps through credit repair to delete the account, but a better course of action is to file the lawsuit under the FDCPA. For now, you should obtain copies of your credit reports and credit scores.  This will help prove the starting point before they report an account and you can prove how much your score actually drops.  A free copy of the reports can be obtained once a year at www.freecreditreport.com but you would have to purchase your credit scores from a one of a multitude of websites.

I would also recommend paying an amount to them.  You said you are willing to pay a reasonable amount so there should be nothing preventing you from doing that.  You have received some services and they've received nothing.  It may end there but, more importantly, it would be viewed favorably by a court that you sent some money in.  At an absolute bare minimum, you should get your offer to them in writing so you can present that document in court that you made a fair offer.  NOTE: If becomes hard to claim that you owe nothing after this, but I'm just going on what you said and paying a "reasonable" amount would help your case.

This will likely be a fluid situation, so all possibilities and steps cannot be covered in this response.  Keep in touch - if you like - as the situation develops.

Good luck,

Regan

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

Hi Regan,

Wow, thank you so much for all the great advice!  I really appreciate it!

I will do all the things you've suggested and gladly keep you updated as things progress.  

Since the debt is over 3 years old, does that diminish the value of the debt?  To a collections agency?  I read in my state(TX) there is a 4 year statute of limitations on medical claims; would that apply to me in this situation?  Or is it from the moment they stop trying to collect?  4 years is less than a year away, so maybe they will take that long to send me another bill.  Also, if I do pay, or offer to pay something around $500 to settle this and just put it behind me(which they have refused already), does that start the 4 year statute of limitations over again?  

Don't get me wrong, I really feel like they took me for a ride and they could have decided not to perform any services on me at all, but knowing nothing was wrong they did everything anyway.  They even made jokes about me being there when I didn't need to be.  I asked if I should just leave, and they told me they were not allowed to let me leave until all these tests were performed.  I even asked how much this was going to cost me since they made it clear I didn't need to be there, and the doctor told me "it wouldn't be too bad."  Maybe for a doctor's salary it's not too bad.  

I did pay $100 when I was discharged, and I paid all the ancillary bills too(the unnecessary x-ray, doctors bills, etc.)  It's only the obscenely high and fraudulent hospital bill I refuse to pay.  (Keeping in mind, with overages even found by the State as I mentioned before.)

Worst case scenario; If they sue me, how worried should I be?  I might win, but what if the wheels of justice are rusty and I lose?  Then what will happen?  I'm very passionate about this and I still would not want to pay even then.  How should I change my outlook on all this, in the big picture?

Thank you so much for being so incredibly helpful.

Sincerely,

Chris

ANSWER: The statute of limitations - SOL - generally starts from the date of medical service.  In Texas, a new WRITTEN contract is needed to restart the SOL when a partial payment is made.  There are obscure issues regarding the SOL such as tolling - or pausing - of the SOL for military, out of country residency, long-term hospitalization, etc. but I assume these do not apply in your case.

The worst case scenario if you are sued is that a judgement goes against you.  This is a very damaging account on your credit reports.  In some states this allows the creditor to garnish wages, place liens on property, attack bank accounts, and even have the sheriff confiscate person property for sale at auction to pay the judgement.  Now, you should check Texas law, because these tools are not allowed in all states and in all states there are some exemptions or limitations, but you did ask for a worst case scenario.

I really cannot say if you would win or not because I don't know your case well enough.  If you are sued, I would file a countersuit for damaged credit and hassle.  If you hire an attorney and win, they should have to pay your attorney bills as well.

Good luck :)

Regan

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

Hi again, Regan.

So they did it; they sent it to a collections agency.  

I tried calling the hospital's billing department to offer a settlement, again, but the supervisor was very rude, again.  I also contacted the hospital again to do the same, but they will not call me back no matter how many times I call.

I responded to the collections agency letter disputing the debt and I sent it certified to them.  There was an issue with no one being at the location but it was signed for several days later, and before the 30 days in which I was supposed to respond.  

I explained that I did not owe this debt, that it has been proven twice that the amount was incorrect, and I included proof of that.  I offered to settle the debt for a more reasonable amount.

Next, I just received a second notice from them, sent two days after they signed for and received my letter disputing the debt.  The notice says, "Our records indicate that you have not paid your bill despite previous requests."  Also, "we are advising our client of your lack of cooperation to resolve your account in a responsible manner."  

I would like to settle this or get an attorney to fight this, but I can only afford to put a certain amount of money into this whichever way I go.  I think the hospital is wrong, and I am willing to fight it too. Thank you so much for your excellent advice.

Sincerely, Chris

[PS - Can I rate your answers to me as we go, or will that block me from asking follow up questions?  For the record, they've all been perfect 10's so far.]
GwynethPaltrow
 
Posts: 40
Joined: Sat Jan 04, 2014 1:13 pm

Fighting A Hospital Bill.

Postby Dyfed » Thu Nov 24, 2016 1:45 pm

I went to the hospital over 3 years ago where I was over-treated and lied to by the hospital staff.  They billed me thousands of dollars, most of it was fraudulent.  They refused to show me an itemized bill, and when they did they just sent internal hospital codes.  I wrote letters, made phone calls, but they refused to address the billing issue until I reported them to the BBB.  They realized much of what was on my bill was fraudulent, reduced it by a third, but they didn't go far enough.  I finally received an itemized bill, and I tried to get them to address the discrepancies, but they refused again.  I spoke to a member of local press who told me my story had legs, and he called the CEO of the hospital who then wanted to speak with me.  The CEO explained that I would need to pay extra for uninsured people(because I had insurance but they wouldn't cover this bill for some reason).  I contacted the state authority who went to the hospital and performed an audit, verifying my claims as substantiated.  I received an angry letter from the CEO telling me since they were forced to remove some things, they were going to add some other things back, and my bill remained the same.  During all this, their billing department has been constantly threatening me, to turn me over to a collections agency, etc.  I want to fight this out of principle.  I am willing to pay a reasonable amount but not what they are charging, and they refuse.  If they send me to a collections agency, what are my options?  Can I just write a letter to the credit bureaus explaining my side of the story?  Will my credit take a hit?  Anything I can do to minimize what might happen?  How to handle the collections agency if they call?  Any advice at all would be most appreciated.  Thank you.

ANSWER: Hi Chris:

My guess is that it is likely this will only be resolved with litigation, so you need to prepare accordingly.  Obviously, obtain and keep any information that proves your case and all contact attempts.

There is little you can do to prevent them from actually reporting it to a collection agency and you really cannot sue until they do because that will be your main cause for damages.  You can't win a lawsuit of this type without damages.

When they report it to a collection agency, the agency should send you a letter.  In that letter, it should mention in the fine print about you having 30 days to respond disputing the balance.  You should do so via certified letter.  This is a critical step.  After that 30 days goes by is when they typically actually report to the bureaus.  In your letter you should include any documentation that proves your case.

Once it's reported you can send a letter of explanation to each credit bureau.  Every time a creditor gets your credit report, they will get your statement as well.  However, this will NOT reduce the negative ramifications on your credit score.

Once it is reported, you can take steps through credit repair to delete the account, but a better course of action is to file the lawsuit under the FDCPA. For now, you should obtain copies of your credit reports and credit scores.  This will help prove the starting point before they report an account and you can prove how much your score actually drops.  A free copy of the reports can be obtained once a year at www.freecreditreport.com but you would have to purchase your credit scores from a one of a multitude of websites.

I would also recommend paying an amount to them.  You said you are willing to pay a reasonable amount so there should be nothing preventing you from doing that.  You have received some services and they've received nothing.  It may end there but, more importantly, it would be viewed favorably by a court that you sent some money in.  At an absolute bare minimum, you should get your offer to them in writing so you can present that document in court that you made a fair offer.  NOTE: If becomes hard to claim that you owe nothing after this, but I'm just going on what you said and paying a "reasonable" amount would help your case.

This will likely be a fluid situation, so all possibilities and steps cannot be covered in this response.  Keep in touch - if you like - as the situation develops.

Good luck,

Regan

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

Hi Regan,

Wow, thank you so much for all the great advice!  I really appreciate it!

I will do all the things you've suggested and gladly keep you updated as things progress.  

Since the debt is over 3 years old, does that diminish the value of the debt?  To a collections agency?  I read in my state(TX) there is a 4 year statute of limitations on medical claims; would that apply to me in this situation?  Or is it from the moment they stop trying to collect?  4 years is less than a year away, so maybe they will take that long to send me another bill.  Also, if I do pay, or offer to pay something around $500 to settle this and just put it behind me(which they have refused already), does that start the 4 year statute of limitations over again?  

Don't get me wrong, I really feel like they took me for a ride and they could have decided not to perform any services on me at all, but knowing nothing was wrong they did everything anyway.  They even made jokes about me being there when I didn't need to be.  I asked if I should just leave, and they told me they were not allowed to let me leave until all these tests were performed.  I even asked how much this was going to cost me since they made it clear I didn't need to be there, and the doctor told me "it wouldn't be too bad."  Maybe for a doctor's salary it's not too bad.  

I did pay $100 when I was discharged, and I paid all the ancillary bills too(the unnecessary x-ray, doctors bills, etc.)  It's only the obscenely high and fraudulent hospital bill I refuse to pay.  (Keeping in mind, with overages even found by the State as I mentioned before.)

Worst case scenario; If they sue me, how worried should I be?  I might win, but what if the wheels of justice are rusty and I lose?  Then what will happen?  I'm very passionate about this and I still would not want to pay even then.  How should I change my outlook on all this, in the big picture?

Thank you so much for being so incredibly helpful.

Sincerely,

Chris

ANSWER: The statute of limitations - SOL - generally starts from the date of medical service.  In Texas, a new WRITTEN contract is needed to restart the SOL when a partial payment is made.  There are obscure issues regarding the SOL such as tolling - or pausing - of the SOL for military, out of country residency, long-term hospitalization, etc. but I assume these do not apply in your case.

The worst case scenario if you are sued is that a judgement goes against you.  This is a very damaging account on your credit reports.  In some states this allows the creditor to garnish wages, place liens on property, attack bank accounts, and even have the sheriff confiscate person property for sale at auction to pay the judgement.  Now, you should check Texas law, because these tools are not allowed in all states and in all states there are some exemptions or limitations, but you did ask for a worst case scenario.

I really cannot say if you would win or not because I don't know your case well enough.  If you are sued, I would file a countersuit for damaged credit and hassle.  If you hire an attorney and win, they should have to pay your attorney bills as well.

Good luck :)

Regan

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

Hi again, Regan.

So they did it; they sent it to a collections agency.  

I tried calling the hospital's billing department to offer a settlement, again, but the supervisor was very rude, again.  I also contacted the hospital again to do the same, but they will not call me back no matter how many times I call.

I responded to the collections agency letter disputing the debt and I sent it certified to them.  There was an issue with no one being at the location but it was signed for several days later, and before the 30 days in which I was supposed to respond.  

I explained that I did not owe this debt, that it has been proven twice that the amount was incorrect, and I included proof of that.  I offered to settle the debt for a more reasonable amount.

Next, I just received a second notice from them, sent two days after they signed for and received my letter disputing the debt.  The notice says, "Our records indicate that you have not paid your bill despite previous requests."  Also, "we are advising our client of your lack of cooperation to resolve your account in a responsible manner."  

I would like to settle this or get an attorney to fight this, but I can only afford to put a certain amount of money into this whichever way I go.  I think the hospital is wrong, and I am willing to fight it too. Thank you so much for your excellent advice.

Sincerely, Chris

[PS - Can I rate your answers to me as we go, or will that block me from asking follow up questions?  For the record, they've all been perfect 10's so far.]
Dyfed
 
Posts: 34
Joined: Mon Mar 10, 2014 2:30 am

Fighting A Hospital Bill.

Postby Avisha » Fri Nov 25, 2016 2:45 pm

Chris:

Remember to get copies of your credit report and preferably your credit score.  This will likely be reported to the credit bureaus sometime shortly after the 30 days.  You want something to compare it to so you can show the negative impact their actions have had.  This gives you damages that can you be compensated for in a lawsuit against them.  If they have reported in that 30 days before responding to your request for validation, you have already won.

I never recommend phone calls unless they are LEGALLY being recorded but at the very least, make sure you call from a phone where you can get phone records proving your calls to them.

Good luck - keep on it.  If you are right, you will eventually win and be compensated for any mistakes they made.

Regan

p.s.  rating answers does not limit your ability to answer questions :)
Avisha
 
Posts: 54
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2014 4:46 am


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