Help me keep the hospital's thugs from breaking my kneecaps over $100 they seem to have lost.
July 24, 2006 2:01 PM Subscribe
Is there anything one can do to fight a medical bill that appears to be incorrect? I visited the emergency room last fall. I paid a $100 copay at the time of service that appears to have never been applied to my bill. Despite several calls to the ostensible hospital billing office (really a cube-farm in Texas) pointing out some discrepancies, they've left the clock ticking, sent threatening notices, and are apparently determined to slash my credit rating if I don't pay *now*. What can I do?
posted by weston to Work & Money (12 answers total)
I have a receipt and a bank statement for the payment that was given at the time of service. The sticky point is that the account number on the receipt appears to be associated with "another account." The ostensible billing office that is actually a contracted cube farm has acknowledged that it would not be standard practice to create separate accounts for the same date of service, however, rather than acknowledge this looks fishy, they've come to the conclusion I must have visited the hospital on two separate occasions. But because they are not actually the hospital, they can't verify this -- and in fact, they weren't willing to admit that they *weren't* the hospital until last Tuesday when, upon getting their threat to report me to the consumer credit agencies, I went semi-ballistic and got a phone call escalated to a supervisor who, however unhelpful in other respects, at least pointed me to someone else I could talk to at the actual hospital to try and track down further information (previous to this point, said cube farm denizens always told me if I contacted other hospital offices, I'd be referred back to them).
So I've contacted local hospital offices every day since. Wednesday I got a verbal acknowledgement from medical records that something is indeed awry and the two separate accounts appear to have the same date of service, and was told they'd call me back. When they didn't, I called back Thursday morning and I was told they'd have to refer the case to supervisor in order to get more information and documentation about what happened, and they'd call me back in an hour or two. When they didn't, I called and left messages Thursday afternoon and Friday morning. No response. Today's a state holiday and they're all out, so my plan to camp out in their office for a few hours in the morning didn't work.
In their notice last week, and in subsequent angry phone calls, the ostensible billing office has assured me that starting tomorrow, they'll consider it time to charge off the debt and report me to the credit agencies, and there's nothing anyone can or will do about it unless I pay them or show them proof I already have on the same account they're trying to collect on. This seems ludicrous to me, given that I have proof that payment went to a different account, I've payed every other bill down to the cent, and they have it on record that I've been talking with representatives since last November to try and find out what's going on. It should be obvious to a kindergartener that I'm not simply dodging them.
Is there anything I can invoke that might give them pause?
If I pay them to avoid even potential damage (which I'm considering doing since I'm close to buying some real estate, just finished cleaning up my credit report, and really don't want trouble), and later discover proof of the billing problem, what are my chances of/means for getting money back?
Are there other options anyone can think of?