Author Topic: Mystery medical collections  (Read 1669 times)

La Bibliotecaria Feroz

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4368
Mystery medical collections
« on: November 14, 2018, 12:44:10 PM »
I just got a collections notice for a medical bill of $35 showing a service date of February 2017. I think maybe one of my kids got stitches? That sounds right. They might have underbilled me at the time and never sent me another bill.

I checked my credit reports and I don't see anything on there so far. My credit is REALLY IMPORTANT right now because I want to buy a house. What are the best steps to protect it?

-Should I just pay this bill immediately and think no more about it?
-Should I write them back and ask for the original creditor info?
-Something else?

TIA, Mustachian friends!

merula

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1218
Re: Mystery medical collections
« Reply #1 on: November 14, 2018, 01:02:06 PM »
It sounds like your credit is worth a whole lot more to you than $35, so in that case the best option is probably to call and pay it, getting a written confirmation that the debt is paid in full.

If it were me, though, I would call the original provider's billing department and try to figure this out. It could totally be a scam where you were paid in full but someone got some basic information somewhere and is trying to make you pay a non-existent debt. Or they could have totally screwed up the billing by mistyping a digit. It's completely unreasonable to send a bill to collections without trying to collect it prior, and I bet you could get some government agency involved.

But I have been known to expend way too much effort for principle, and I don't really care about my credit score, so you probably shouldn't do what I would do.

myrrh

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 38
Re: Mystery medical collections
« Reply #2 on: November 14, 2018, 01:03:09 PM »
Didn't they change the law a few years back so that medical collections under $100 aren't reported on your credit anymore?
I'll try to find a source.

La Bibliotecaria Feroz

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4368
Re: Mystery medical collections
« Reply #3 on: November 14, 2018, 01:22:39 PM »
Didn't they change the law a few years back so that medical collections under $100 aren't reported on your credit anymore?
I'll try to find a source.

Ooh, I looked that up and it appears to be true.

I just went ahead and paid it, then. I was afraid that paying it would be acknowledging I had done something wrong or something like that. I don't care about the $35 and nine cents in interest. And I think there's like an 80% chance it was a legitimate charge.

Sugaree

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 453
Re: Mystery medical collections
« Reply #4 on: November 14, 2018, 01:39:30 PM »
In the future, it's usually a good idea to pay medical collections directly to the provider.  Medical offices aren't usually in the business of reporting lates to the credit agencies, but debt collectors are.  There's nothing saying that a collection has to be removed from your credit report if it's paid.  It just has to be marked as paid. 

GuitarStv

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 13632
  • Age: 38
  • Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Re: Mystery medical collections
« Reply #5 on: November 14, 2018, 01:40:48 PM »
When you get a bill for medical service in the US it doesn't tell you what the service was, and who received it?

frugaliknowit

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1649
Re: Mystery medical collections
« Reply #6 on: November 14, 2018, 02:03:08 PM »
Best is to call the provider and call your insurance company to find out what it's all about.

ketchup

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3885
  • Age: 28
Re: Mystery medical collections
« Reply #7 on: November 14, 2018, 02:27:02 PM »
When you get a bill for medical service in the US it doesn't tell you what the service was, and who received it?

COEE

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 609
Re: Mystery medical collections
« Reply #8 on: November 14, 2018, 08:00:04 PM »
When you get a bill for medical service in the US it doesn't tell you what the service was, and who received it?


Unfortunately it's true.

I'm still getting collections calls for a $20 'medical bill' that I refuse to pay.  I called and got a verbal quote for services I needed before I went, and then the provider decided that I needed to pay more based on my insurance, despite having paid the agreed to price at the visit.  It's now gone to collections.  They keep threatening to report it to the credit bureaus.  The good thing about being debt free is that I don't give two bowel movements what my credit score is or isn't - so that threat isn't scary.

I didn't know about the <$100 thing - I'll throw that in their face next time they call.

Another lesson learned - get the quote in writing especially when working with medical providers.

I hate our system.

QueenAlice

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 276
  • Age: 32
  • QueenAlice, PhD
Re: Mystery medical collections
« Reply #9 on: November 14, 2018, 08:05:51 PM »
Iím not going to lie, I clicked on this thread really thinking there were going to be some awesome murder mystery book recommendations...

Rural

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4834
Re: Mystery medical collections
« Reply #10 on: November 15, 2018, 03:13:42 AM »
Had a similar one recently, also a little over $30. On follow up (and there are hours of my one and only life I'll never get back) the provider admitted they'd never sent a bill at all.

GuitarStv

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 13632
  • Age: 38
  • Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Re: Mystery medical collections
« Reply #11 on: November 15, 2018, 07:20:18 AM »
When you get a bill for medical service in the US it doesn't tell you what the service was, and who received it?


Unfortunately it's true.

I'm still getting collections calls for a $20 'medical bill' that I refuse to pay.  I called and got a verbal quote for services I needed before I went, and then the provider decided that I needed to pay more based on my insurance, despite having paid the agreed to price at the visit.  It's now gone to collections.  They keep threatening to report it to the credit bureaus.  The good thing about being debt free is that I don't give two bowel movements what my credit score is or isn't - so that threat isn't scary.

I didn't know about the <$100 thing - I'll throw that in their face next time they call.

Another lesson learned - get the quote in writing especially when working with medical providers.

I hate our system.

It's just really, really, really weird.  I can't think of anything else that you're billed for where they won't tell you what you're paying for.  And if you don't know what you're paying for, how can you prove that you've made payment for service received?  It seems designed to create improper billing problems.

FireHiker

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1060
  • Location: So Cal
Re: Mystery medical collections
« Reply #12 on: November 15, 2018, 10:34:21 AM »
I had this happen a couple of years ago where I got a random notice about medical collections without ever receiving a bill. Apparently the medical provider applied the insurance payment to the wrong family member on our account. Then they sent it to collections without even sending us anything!! Thanks to Mustachianism I know exactly where every penny goes and I track all finances meticulously, so I knew there was nothing I hadn't paid and that we'd never received any bill. It was a huge hassle to get it straightened out, but I'm sure glad I didn't just go ahead and pay it when I didn't actually owe anything. F-ing local medical office that sucks...

onlykelsey

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2172
Re: Mystery medical collections
« Reply #13 on: November 15, 2018, 10:36:06 AM »
Iím not going to lie, I clicked on this thread really thinking there were going to be some awesome murder mystery book recommendations...
I was thinking creepy collections of medical things a la Philly's Mutter museum.

bacchi

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3720
Re: Mystery medical collections
« Reply #14 on: November 15, 2018, 11:25:31 AM »
I paid a medical bill with my bank's bill pay, where they cut a check to the payee. The provider insisted that the payment came from my insurance company, even though the checks clearly specify that it's from "Bacchi," and they wanted the full amount (again).

Jon Bon

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 764
  • Location: Midwest
Re: Mystery medical collections
« Reply #15 on: November 15, 2018, 11:46:50 AM »
I got a water bill for $5 from like 3 houses and 5 years ago. I just paid it, I figured it would piss me off to no end to try and call and wade thru the BS to get it handled.

Sounds like an unethical business opportunity to me! Send out a bunch of legitimate looking bills for <20 bucks or so? People just pay rather then spent the life force to investigate it.

La Bibliotecaria Feroz

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4368
Re: Mystery medical collections
« Reply #16 on: November 15, 2018, 02:30:04 PM »
@GuitarStv, I have always been able to get an itemized bill when I ask. It is just difficult or impossible to get prices in advance.

This time I just didn't bother because I'm pretty sure I know what it was. I think it was a mistake on their end.

What's kind of upsetting is that it was a mistake relating to the Colorado Indigent Care Program, which I used to have when I was in straitened circumstances. It's basically copay relief. I have an HDHP through my work, but if I took my kids to the ER, instead of paying, saying $2200*, I would pay like $70. Maybe it was $140.

Anyway, I think they underbilled me for my kid's stitches. If I were living in poverty, getting this mistaken bill from a collection agency might be, y'know, a really big deal! They should be careful with that shit!

*This was the actual bill that led me to get the program. My older child bit his tongue so badly he required stitches, which they can only do in the ER because they're internal (so it wasn't classed as "urgent care"), and he had to be sedated for it. It added up. There was a second ER bill for the other child who also had stitches in his face, but that was maybe half as much because there was no anesthesiologist involved.

La Bibliotecaria Feroz

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4368
Re: Mystery medical collections
« Reply #17 on: November 15, 2018, 02:30:36 PM »
Iím not going to lie, I clicked on this thread really thinking there were going to be some awesome murder mystery book recommendations...

Ha! No! But if you want a nice romance, let me know.

I'm a red panda

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8008
  • Location: United States
Re: Mystery medical collections
« Reply #18 on: November 15, 2018, 02:57:45 PM »
When you get a bill for medical service in the US it doesn't tell you what the service was, and who received it?


Unfortunately it's true.

I'm still getting collections calls for a $20 'medical bill' that I refuse to pay.  I called and got a verbal quote for services I needed before I went, and then the provider decided that I needed to pay more based on my insurance, despite having paid the agreed to price at the visit.  It's now gone to collections.  They keep threatening to report it to the credit bureaus.  The good thing about being debt free is that I don't give two bowel movements what my credit score is or isn't - so that threat isn't scary.

I didn't know about the <$100 thing - I'll throw that in their face next time they call.

Another lesson learned - get the quote in writing especially when working with medical providers.

I hate our system.

It's just really, really, really weird.  I can't think of anything else that you're billed for where they won't tell you what you're paying for.  And if you don't know what you're paying for, how can you prove that you've made payment for service received?  It seems designed to create improper billing problems.

90% of my bills say "hospital services"

Even well-child appointments with a pediatrician ($0 copay, thanks Obama), because the clinic is attached to a hospital.

EnjoyTheJourney

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 10
Re: Mystery medical collections
« Reply #19 on: November 15, 2018, 04:10:33 PM »
We've had many experiences with errors in medical billing. For example, we've been overbilled for our co-pay several times alone, along with other miscellaneous mistakes over the years.

I found that being able to interpret diagnostic codes (when present) or to ask for the diagnostic code (when not present) often helps to speed things up, sometimes by quite a bit. In case it helps, here is a recent introductory resource for finding codes and interpreting them:

https://www.verywellhealth.com/finding-icd-codes-2615311

chemistk

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 360
Re: Mystery medical collections
« Reply #20 on: November 16, 2018, 05:59:38 AM »
Also chirping in here to remind everyone that it's absolutely to keep ALL of your medical bills AND your insurance EOB/Plan Activity statements. I staple the EOB to the bill after it's paid and write on the bill when I paid it (so I can locate the transaction).

TWICE in the past 2 years, the hospital "adjusted" (changed) the procedure codes for things that happened 6+ months prior. It then caused their automated system to re-calculate the insurance billing and resulted in "new bills" in excess of $1000.

Without the documentation, there would have been no way for me to line up what happened when and find the error (I had to find it MYSELF, they weren't any help) - once the errors were located they realized the mistakes that were made and cleared everything out.

Dr.Jeckyl

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 143
Re: Mystery medical collections
« Reply #21 on: November 16, 2018, 11:25:31 AM »
My wife had a bill like this and she called and just paid it. I was a bit miffed at her at first because she should've asked for proof of the debt. But in the end it dropped off her credit and her score actually went up once it was paid. Don't know if we were lucky or not.