Received Huge Bill for Medical Procedure Done 6 YEARS Ago - Do I Have to Pay It?

Updated on April 16, 2014
M.B. asks from Palatine, IL
27 answers

Just recently, out of the blue I received a bill for a medical procedure I had done in 2008. I had not received a bill for it prior to this. It's for over $3000! Is there a law about providers having to bill in a timely manner? I don't even know for sure which insurance I had at the time, and if they billed them. Any advice would be appreciated - thanks!

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So What Happened?

Thank you everyone for your responses. The bill is from a place called Professional Neurological Services Ltd. I called the phone number on the bill, but after following the automated prompts, the extension I was directed to said the "mailbox was full". It automatically directed me to another "mailbox", where I left my name and number to call me back. So I'm waiting for them to call me. I tried googling them, but found very little info on them. They don't have a website. The bill is itemized and lists insurance codes. It also lists a "Commercial Insurance Payment" with an dollar amount, but doesn't list the name of the insurance company or date it was supposedly paid. It also has a line that says "Allowed by insurance ($2,291.70)"

Interestingly enough, I did find one article about this business - it was about a former employee winning a discrimination case against them. They are supposed to pay her damages. Hmmm.

Featured Answers



answers from Phoenix on

Definitely talk to an attorney about the statute of limitations in this case. Some states have a 6 year statute of limitations for collections on a written contract, so that date may be part of the reason you are being contacted now. If they are up against a statute of limitations, they may have to file against you or lose their claim. Or the statute could have passed already, in which case they cannot collect via lawsuit.

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answers from Washington DC on

I got a bill last year for $440 from the birth of my twins. After calling the company to find out what the bill was for, I called my insurance company to find out why they didn't pay it. It turns out that the doctor only has a year to file a claim with my insurance company. They didn't do it, so my insurance company refused to pay it. I argued that since it wasn't my fault that they delayed that I wasn't responsible for the bill. They wrote it off and I didn't need to pay it. My insurance company gave me all the information I needed to fight the claim. Like other posters said, call the doctor get all the necessary information, than call the insurance company. I've had this happen a couple of times and both times my insurance company gave me step by step instructions on what to do and both times I ended up not having to pay the bill.

15 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

You say you did in fact have the procedure so when you had the procedure, did you expect it to be covered at 100%? Did you have a co-pay at the time for this procedure. I would be digging through my files (mine are quite organized) and find out what insurance company I had, who exactly is billing me for the procedure and go from there. At this point, the bill will not go away... you have to address and hopefully with good records from the past, you can get the proof you need.

I would not pay it outright until it was proven to me that the Dr was not paid for the procedure and then, due to the length of time of the procedure and billing, I would negotiate a lower $$ amount or get it written off in a way that would NOT damage my credit.

11 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

Make SURE it is not some type of scam.

Where or who is the bill from?
Call them.
Ask an Attorney.
6 years later... that is weird.

10 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I would definitely respond immediately, but do not pay until you are sure about what is going on.

Get to the bottom of this!

This also could be a phishing scam.

If you call the number again or they call back, ASK for information. Do not GIVE any personal information that is not already given on the letter you received. If they don't HAVE your date of birth, don't give it to them. If they don't HAVE your SSN, don't give it to them, etc.

If it were me, I'd IGNORE the number on the letter for a moment and call the hospital or office that PERFORMED the procedure directly. Ask to be connected to their billing department. Talk to someone THERE about the status of your account and let them know that you received this bill in the mail and are confused about why you would get this years later. If it was not truly initiated by them, use the contact information on the bill to file a police report.

Good luck.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

I'm going to guess that the provider either did an audit and found unpaid billing or changed to a new billing service. A lot of times the new billing service will dig into prior billing so show the provider how terrible their prior service was and how great their current one is.

Call the billing department and ask for a copy of the bill along with a print out of the history of the billing (when it was submitter to insurance, when insurance paid, etc.) With that information you can contact the insurance company and get info from their end on what they did with the billing and what your balance is.

Sometimes there's contracted rates for services and the billing office doesn't do the write off correctly. Sometimes they've credited the wrong account or done a typo crediting the wrong amounts.

Please DO NOT PAY ANYTHING UNTIL YOU VERIFY THAT YOU REALLY OWE THE MONEY. Making a payment means that you accept the debit as yours.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on


What I would do is start digging in my files and finding out what insurance I had during that time frame...then call the doctor's BILLING office and ask them WHY the bill is just NOW coming to you after SIX years...

Have a working pen and paper in front of you when you call....write the date and time, number you called and person you spoke with and what they said.

Then, depending upon what they say, call the insurance company and get the matter settled.

I would NOT pay anything until I found out EXACTLY what they are billing me for six years later...they have the right to will need to check with your state laws for the statute of limitations to put it on your credit report.

You NEED to get the information from the doctor's billing office. DO NOT stick your head in the sand and ignore it.....there was one person on here who did and complained about it (kept throwing the notices in the trash)....and NO - I'm NOT saying you will. But get on top of it NOW.

Good luck!

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

The statute of limitations on collecting medical bills in Illinois is 10 years.
You're still on the hook for this.
Look into your paperwork and see if you have anything that states it was paid in full from back then.
If you do, fax them or send them a copy (be sure to keep your original).
Look into it, get an itemized list of what they are charging you for and check with the insurance you had at the time, what was covered at the time, etc.
Make sure the charges are in line with the procedure you had (they are not charging you for prostate surgery if you're a woman or a hysterectomy if you're a man, etc).
Don't ignore it.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbia on

It's up to you to do some digging and find out what your insurance was and why the bill hasn't been paid. Start with the doctor's office. Did they submit the claim? To which insurance? Did the insurance pay part of the claim, or refuse payment outright? Why are they just now sending you a bill? Is the bill already in collections? Have you moved and did you not give a forwarding address so that you would miss collections notices? What can be done?

You're wasting your time here because you haven't gotten answers to the above questions. Get on the phone.

ETA: PLEASE call the original doctor's office that did the procedure and make sure that this bill is legitimate and you actually owe this money. It seems so odd that a collection agency would not answer. And DO NOT give them your personal information over the phone. They should have it all. This whole thing sounds way scammy to me!

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

My husband has a bill that I am still fighting to remove from his credit. He was covered under workers' comp but that ended. he needed an MRI and gave the medical office the correct info. They billed workers' comp. A year later, I saw a collection on his credit report. I talked to the biller and sent her all the info to get it taken care of. They never, even after another faxing to them and a letter to the bill collector, sent it correctly to the insurance. I have no intention of paying the bill. I did what was needed, and will be sending copies of all letters again this week. Try to find out what insurance you had at the time If anything, the doctor's office should have it in their file as well. Then find out why it was not sent or what ever happened to it.
The statute of limitations for collection actions is 5 yrs in IL (not 10). You are still responsible to pay but they cannot go after you to collect as long as you do not pay anything or say you will.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I agree to call the billing department - the number is on the bill. See what info they had on you including the insurer, policy number, etc. If you don't have a detailed bill, get one from them. It will include everything from anesthesia to procedure room fees, after care and maybe meds (depending on how long you were there), and so on. If they didn't bill insurance, they should. If they did, there should be something that indicates how much of the $3000 is your co-pay or deductible, and how much is them trying to make up what the insurer didn't pay for other reasons. If the bill says something like "insurance write-off" or "Blue Cross allowance." Usually, hospitals or outpatient facilities have agreements with insurers, where they agree to charge only what the insurance company allows for each procedure. Sometimes the facility tries to pass that difference on to the patient, but they have agreed to take patients "at a loss" in order to be an accepted facility of the insurer. You can also go back to your physician and that billing/referral department to get help sorting it out. Once you get the policy number and the codes for the procedure, you will have enough info to go to the old insurance carrier, who still have an obligation to cover you for procedures at that time even if you no longer have coverage with them. Don't feel like you can't protest any of this!

If you had a deductible, you may have to pay it. But remember that your call to the hospital/clinic counts as making an effort to resolve this (though not an agreement to pay), so they cannot send it to collection while you are investigating or trying to resolve it. They will also be more than happy to make a payment arrangement, because anything they get now will be far more than they've gotten so far, and far more than they would get if they sent it out to a collection agency. So you don't have to panic, and you don't have to sell the family silver to pay this.

And yes, you should find out why you are just being billed now. Don't discuss with them that you don't think you should have to pay only within a certain time frame - don't commit to paying or say that you won't - just say you are gathering info because it doesn't make sense, and you want to get all the covered expenses you are entitled to.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

Before I got married, I had personal insurance (my husband just retired from the Air Force 2 years ago) and I got a bill from my orthopedist 3 years after the surgery. They had put the wrong code is and the insurance company reversed the payment. It was caught during an audit.

I called the billing department and asked what the problem was. They told me. I called the insurance company. I put the two of them in contact again. Luckily enough, my insurance company paid even though they were not required to pay one year post date of service.


6 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Start digging into your records. Find out what insurance you had and call them and ask what was paid on this. Was it denied for some reason that you can discuss with them? Look back into your checkbook or bank account and find out what you paid them for this. Find out what your deductible was back then and did you meet it? What was your out of pocket max and did you meet it? Find ONE person at your old insurance company, maybe even a supervisor, as a contact person, in case you need to make multiple calls back and forth to them.

I had a similar case. The medical billing company was being sent to collections or something and went back and sent out a bunch of double billings to patients. My insurance and I had already paid the bill.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Dover on

I would call them and ask them why you are receiving a bill now, 6 years later, when you haven't received one before. Go from there.

I once had a procedure that was mostly, if not all, covered by my insurance. I think I had a co-pay or something but about a year or more later received a statement showing "Past Due". I called. They said they had a new person getting their files up to speed and it went out in error. My guess is it was either that they forgot to make the "adjustment" that should have been made or maybe they should have billed me but didn't and was now writing it off since it had been so long.

Not sure what the rules are regarding timely billing.

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answers from Peoria on

I'm just curious...didn't you wonder where the bill was and why you didn't get one when you had the procedure done six years ago?

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Yep. If it's your bill, it needs to be paid.

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answers from Washington DC on

first of all, call their billing department and get all the details. they should be able to tell you what insurance you had, and your account number so you can get in touch with the insurance company. and find out exactly why you are being billed so long after the procedure.
this sucks. i sure hope you can get it worked out. i'll bet you can. it sounds like a glitch.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Before you panic, contact both the insurance co. and the provider. And yes, you do need to know what insurance co. you had at the time.

When my son was born, I got all kinds of huge bills because my insurance co. had his birth date wrong. They were literally telling me, "We rejected this claim (for a delivery) because according to our records, this child won't be born for another month." I was like, really? Your records are SO accurate that you can see into the future? Really?" I had to fax them his birth cert, and then they paid it.

So, before you get into the question of should you pay or shouldn't you, find out WHY they're billing you at this late date. More than likely it's something that was already paid, and this is an error.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

It is my guess that the hospital or doctor had their medical billing and collection records audited and uncovered this. They may have sold their old collectibles to a collection agency that gets a percentage of any amount of money they collect. Who was the bill from? Was it from a physician office, a billing service, a hospital or a collection agency? Where were you (or a spouse) working in 2008? the HR department would know what insurance carrier they had in 2008. You could contact the entity you received the bill from and get information on the bill. Find out who the bill was from (perhaps it was a lab or biopsy bill or anesthesia bill or a specialist that was called in on your case) and if it had been submitted to your insurance company at the time. They should be able to tell you what ins company and how they processed the claim. I doubt an insurance company will process a claim that is more than 6 years old- I am sure that policies have a statue of limitation. If this is indeed a legitimate debt, I would offer to settle for 10 cents on a dollar or $300. But I would require a letter (on their letterhead) in advance saying that that amount would be accepted as FULL PAYMENT on that debt. Otherwise, they may keep billing you for the remainder. Good luck!

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answers from St. Louis on

Yes, there is a law. More than likely they didn't bill your Ins company in the required time. Someone just caught it, they know they can't/won't get payment now. So their hoping you won't know about this and pay the bill to keep your credit good. It is worth your time however to figure out which Ins co you had at that time. Who ever you worked for then the PR dept will have that info. Call the ins Co. explain it to them, get in wrighting whether or not they pd that claim if so how much and when. If there was any patient responsibility and if so what that $$ amount was. Then KEEP all this info and make copies and forward to the Office billing you. I had this happen 4 years ago regarding one of my children the office did not bill in the allotted time so they were out the money. PS I also use to work for a Dr, this happens often.

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answers from Reading on

Of course you have to pay it.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

No, there is not statute of limitations on owing a bill. If you do owe it they can bill you at any time. They do have some regulations as to how they have to handle it though. Such as when they can turn it in to a collection agency, when last contact with you about it is, etc....if they contact you now and you don't pay they can still keep it for 7 years then file it with a collection agency.

That's what my boss found out about some unpaid bills she sent to a collection agency. They told her she could do all kinds of things.

If you owe someone money it never goes away, it is still owed. They can take you to court, file a lien, get garnishment, etc....for years.

One of the odd things that was posted by a FB lady that owes money to my boss was that she was going to just wait it out...until the bill was not able to be collected on. Like a statute of limitations on crime. A couple of attorney's corrected that person by mentioning this. IF IF IF a bill could be "waited out" and the person gets out of paying it wouldn't everyone who ran up huge debt just do that? Instead of having to file bankruptcy? OR go to court and have garnishments?

Call them and talk to the office manager/billing office. They should be able to give you all the information you need.

I imagine there was some sort of error about the whole thing. They need to be able to produce an itemized bill, showing who they billed it to, what the insurance company said about why they were being refused payment, and if anyone even filed or received payment and didn't write it down.
Response to your ETA

Call the doc's office that did the procedure. This does sound like a collection agency for doc's.

That doc's office should have every bit of information you need. They may say they can't talk to you about the bill if it's turned over to collections, then you'll know for sure.

It could be a scam too. These days one never knows. I'd call the doc's office to make sure it was even legit.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

It sounds like it might be a collections agency. If I were you, I'd get a lawyer and I would NOT pay it unless they could prove that you owe it. What you CAN'T do is ignore it. The lawyer can write a letter on your behalf. You can also fight it with the credit reporting agencies.

I do think that you'll be SOL with the insurance company after 6 years, but hopefully you have paperwork from the insurance company (if you can find it) that shows that they paid your bills.

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answers from Richland on

Did the insurance company reverse the claim? If so you do owe the money and will have to fight the insurance company.

If they just did not bill you all this time I am not really sure.

Just looking at some of the answers I feel I should throw this out there, I am an accountant at a medical billing office. We don't even look at let alone audit something from six years ago! Not even remotely cost effective. Pour over thousands of claims find maybe a dozen that are still owed, never will collect the money, who would do that?

That is why I assumed this was a reversed claim. Insurance companies can and will do that. Like say what you had done was now found to not be covered by an identical policy. They just look at the codes and it brings up every claim that can be denied. See, they can do that, we can't.

Okay just for you I walked back and asked our coders, no time limit, they can take that money back as long as they have a reason. I asked is Illinois different, no, they are not, and we bill a lot of Illinois claims.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

Was this procedure something insurance should have covered? I guess I would call them and tell them to submit it to your insurance company whoever that may have been. They should have those records too. Good luck.

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answers from New York on

I would find out from an attorney. I wouldn't reach out to any doctor's office or insurance company before speaking with my attorney.

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answers from Missoula on

Find out first what your statue of limitations is. I'm not sure if it helps at all with medical bills, but if your statue of limitations is 6 years, then you do not have to pay it. You'll have to find out for sure though! Do not pay a dime though until you figure that out first!

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