11 answers

Suggestions Requested for Medical Bills from 2 Years Ago

I had (successful) fertility treatment beginning in January 2007 through June 2007 - YAY!!! Of course, we couldn't be more thrilled that we were blessed with another angel. Curiously, we didn't receive any bills for services during this time. December 2007 rolled around, and I contacted the clinic numerous times requesting (actually pleading for) billing information so that I could apply any charges against my 2007 Health Care Reimbursement account. I was always given the runaround and so I finally gave up. Now, almost 2 years after services were rendered, my HUSBAND receives a bill, and itemized statements (8 pages worth with services for both my husband and myself), with a summary page indicating that we owe them almost $500 (I know, a VERY small price to pay for a beautiful baby). I contacted the business office, and was (rudely) basically told that they have 6 years to bill a patient, and they will turn my account over to a collection agency if I do not pay within the next 2 weeks. I know that my insurance company has a timely filing limit of 365 days, so why would it be different for the patient? I would be very appreciative if anyone has advice on whether I should just suck it up and fork over the money, or try to dispute it further. Thanks for listening mamas!

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

So sorry (and glad it was successful for you!) We have gotten medical bills 2 years old and wonder why there isn't a law or statute of limitations on bills. We definitely think there should be!

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Hi K.,
Depends if your credit rating can be damaged/effected by their negative "charge off" rating on your credit bureau report/s. (may have already been- neg reports can begin 30 days & on)I have been in the collection, banking & finacial industry for many years so you may not like what I have to say but it is true. =)
Because the "services were rendered",you signed something agreeing you would pay if the insurance did not and because their was no agreement to "arrange" a late payoff/payment plan. It is not the their duty to make sure you receive something in the mail to pay(I understand it is for the ins reimbursement)they expect for you to pay regardless because the services rendered would be the reminder. Anyone can say "they did not get the bill" and they use it ALL the time. I am in no way saying that is what you did- just saying by you telling them that justs goes in 1 ear & out the other. Especially medical collections they are certainly more patient to work with. It is illegal for them to threaten things they cannot nor will not do.
Was the $500 the entire bill or what was due after the insurance paid their portion?
The reason your husband received the mail (I can assume) is he is the primary on the billing(even if you handle the bills etc).
Keep in mind..you waited almost 6 months to contact them. Now it has been at least 2 years and 6months+ since you have made contact or paid/had gotten the debt paid. They credit report/s on this account cannot be made any worse. They will just update the month tally.
To make it better- 1)by paying the debt in FULL=100% of the bill- then the report/s can be changed to PAID IN FULL- which can help when viewers see you have some/a lot of debt and they see it being paid off..late.. but still paid & shows your intentions are good because the debt gotten paid-
2) save some $$- ask about a settlement= discount off the entire balance. They can offer within their criteria a percentage off in the incentive for you to pay the bill off now. Some give you 1-3 months to pay the discounted bill off. Your balance is "low" for a settlement plan but they may still do it. Your credit bureau will be updated as SETTLED IN FULL which is 2nd best. Everyone just knows you took the discount but still paid-no obligation to the remaining.
Disputing will just further delay your credit from getting cleared up faster. You can use the reason you did not pay for your reason to want to settle.
Email if you have any questions or need anything. Good luck. =)

You asked so I'm going to tell it straight - I think you already know in your heart the right thing to do. If we owe something it is our responsibility to pay weather it is a year or more. I would rather pay than have to deal with poor credit. You might ask them if you can make monthly payments. I have heard the fertility treatments are very costly.

I am so happy you have the beautiful baby you wanted. It would be really sad to think you had to pay, and didn't get the help you needed.

Take care,

Hi K.. What an ordeal they have put you through! Here is what I would do. Call your insurance provider and tell them everything. If they are not helpful, ask for a manager to help you. That should be part of what they provide to their customers- knowledge of the billing laws. I used to work in HR for my company and our employees would come to us and we would help them with situations like this also, so maybe that is an option? I would also talk to someone as high up as they would let me from the clinic. Like previously mentioned- they have to of had some payment for your bill to now be $500. You should be able to see all of your billings including anything sent to your insurance provider. If you are worried about them sending you to a collection agency- send them a tiny amount, like $5. This used to, and I haven't heard differently, keep them from being able to have it show on your credit because you are making payments toward it. If they do pass it on, dispute it. Just don't panic (if you can)- easier said than done when dealing with this type of situation. If you don't get someone to help you somewhere- ask for their supervisor! I hope you get a response from someone who knows more. Best of luck and hang in there!

It is odd that this happened. Perhaps your account was sold to another agency, or something else happened that caused them to not bill you correctly initially. Although I do agree that you are liable for paying what is due, I would still research your rights and find out if you can have your payments deferred (rather than a lump sum) due in 2 weeks. Also, it would be a good idea to check your credit report to make sure that they didn't place any negatives against you, given how long this has gone on.


Best of luck!

What does your insurance company say? That sure seems unfare to me. I have a friend who works for Aetna, I will ask her and see if she has any advice. If she does I will get back to you.

So sorry (and glad it was successful for you!) We have gotten medical bills 2 years old and wonder why there isn't a law or statute of limitations on bills. We definitely think there should be!

Hi, K. -
I agree it is a small price to pay for your miracle baby. That said, it is completely ridiculous. They have 6 years to bill you? Do you then have 6 years to pay? Again - it seems ridiculous. The fact that you missed submitting it to your healthcare account makes it all the more aggravating, especially if you lost unused funds at the end of 2007. Are you dealing with an outside billing service? Someone with whom the doctor's office has contracted? It sounds like it, only because the rude treatment sounds more like a collection agent than a doctor's office. If so, perhaps a call to the office manager at the fertility clinic would be worthwhile. Let them know what poor service is being given them by the contracted billing agent. In the meantime, perhaps you should deliver a certified letter to them letting them know you are disputing the charges, and that if they touch your credit rating during the next 90 days (or whatever), while you investigate your rights further, you will sue them. Given what fertility treatments cost, this $500 is totally a drop in the bucket - they have certainly already been paid many thousands by the insurance company. Perhaps you can get someone to waive it given the circumstances. It seems worth a try.
Good luck.

I would explain to them that because they took so long to bill you, you don't have the funds available, and will have to make a payment plan with them. When my son had to have surgery at 2 months old, I was on payment plans with EVERYONE! You can also call your insurance company and ask them if this is the correct amount that you owe the doctor, etc.
Also, the "collection agency" they refer to may very well be an internal "collection agency" that is still apart of that office. I've seen that happen several times where they just call you more often, send letters, etc, but don't hit your credit. If it does hit your credit report, dispute the record as inaccurate because of everything you said above. Then they will have to investigate.

The Dr.'s office know that the insurance company have a time limit for billing, and know that they won't get paid if they bill after that time limit. Most offices eat most of the cost of the bill if they bill after that time limit. Therefore, most offices will bill within the 365 days to make sure they get paid by the insurance co. I'm assuming that this was covered by your insurance ? If this was not an insurance covered expence, and just cash pay, then it may be different. You may want to talk to a billing supervisor and threaten to contact the Better Business Bureau about unfair billing practices. Maybe offer to pay half the bill (assuming the ins. won't pay due to the time limit) and ask for a payment plan if needed. Any fair office would accept this offer knowing that they missed the insurance deadline. If you really wanted to, you could take them to small claims court and probably win. Although, that may be a hassle and who knows about the cost ? Good luck, hope it gets settled soon.

I don't have advise, but I am in the same situation with a bill from an emrgency room in Show Low. I was disputing it and them all of a sudden they dropped it. Never heard from them or insurance company (who only paid 25% of the $1000 bill). I am afriad they have put me into collections or will contact me like in your situation. PLease email me with any laws or protection you find out. ____@____.com

Thank you and good luck on this.

K., I know that money isn't the easiest these days to come by, but please count your blessings...my husband and I had a son in October of 07 with no assistance other than the routine doctors visits and the delivery at the hospital. We paid close to $5000.00, with co-pay and deductables and only having insurance which paid 90%. I had a delivery fortunately with no complications and needed no pain meds and still paid that much. Just trying to make your large bill easier to swallow...much joy wished for you and your family.

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