Medical bill got returned by USPS and sent to collections: how to fix?
January 2, 2013 1:48 PM Subscribe
I recently found out a medical bill got returned by the post office and went to collections. How do I fix this?
posted by anonymous to work & money (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I live in the USA and had an ER visit in September that resulted in the usual confusing array of bills. I had and continue to have health insurance through work, but provided it after the fact to the service providers who billed me. I had since been in contact with the billing department of the hospital and was told that everything was currently being processed by my insurance, but over the holidays my parents, who live in a different state, got a call from a collections agency. The call went to voice mail, but on googling the number it seemed like it came from an agency that mainly processed medical debt.
After calling several numbers affiliated with the hospital, I at last talked directly with the emergency medicine department and found that there was in fact a separate charge I hadn't been aware of, which was sent to collections because the bill was returned by the post office. The address I gave didn't have my apartment number, so that's probably the reason, though I did receive other bills from the same hospital visit (and, I just checked, the same apartment-number-less address) without a problem. The person who told me about the extra charge also told me that I would have to deal with the collections agency instead of with the hospital, but that I should be able to get them to send the bill to my insurance.
Okay, infodump over. My question is: given this situation, what do I need to know, if anything, before establishing contact with the collection agency and asking them to bill my insurance? Also, what, if anything, can I do at this stage to mitigate or minimize the impact on my credit? My sense from reading previous AskMes is that collections agencies are not always super above-board in dealing with debtors, and I want to make sure that I am appropriately prepared; on the other hand, many of the previous questions seem to be from people who were either disputing the debt or trying to settle for less than the total, neither of which is my aim here - I just want to get my insurance billed ASAP and to pay the remaining balance in full and move on with my life. Any help navigating potential pitfalls in this process would be appreciated. Thanks all.