Medical/travel insurance SNAFU outside my country. Am I liable?
February 12, 2013 11:23 AM   Subscribe

I was in an minor accident in the U.S. last September (broke my foot). At the time, my workplace travel insurance seemed to have covered everything just fine -- I went to the clinic, gave them my paperwork, they made some calls, said I was covered and I didn't even need to provide a credit card. Just today, I got a call telling me I owe the clinic $500. Do I care?

Apparently the reason I'm only being told about this unpaid bill six months after the fact is because their hospital system can't send mail to Canada without it being returned as a "bad address," which seems a little ludicrous. As far as I can tell, my insurance company cleared it, then said "bill to local," at which point the local Blue Cross office refused to pay for some arcane reason.

I could embark on the long and arduous process of dealing with my insurance company. But what's the worst-case scenario if I don't? Can I be billed, or sued, or have credit agencies come after me across the border if I just tell them that they got approval from my insurance company, and this is now their problem to deal with?
posted by Shepherd to Work & Money (7 answers total)
Have you called both offices of the insurance company involved and explained the situation? Have you called the hospital and the benefits department of HR at your work? I've had much larger sums owed to insurance cleared up with a couple of phone calls.
posted by halogen at 11:29 AM on February 12, 2013

In my own experience, dealing with the insurance company won't be long and arduous. They have a file opened for your case and are waiting for the bill (Blue Cross in the US is a separate entity and has nothing to do with your claim). Contact your insurance about the bill and ask them to clear things up. It's their job and they shoud clear things promptly.
posted by bluefrog at 11:33 AM on February 12, 2013

I am (pardon me for thread-sitting, but this may save people wasted time asking) waiting to talk to our office HR manager so she can follow up with the insurance company for me (or give me the go-ahead to do it myself).
posted by Shepherd at 11:34 AM on February 12, 2013

Practically speaking, if you don't live in the US, there's very little they can/will do to make you pay, especially over $500. If you plan to move here at some point in the future, however, it wouldn't be very handy to have a charged off bill on your US credit report. That said, medical bills are the easiest to get removed later on down the road.

I would expect that since you had travel insurance that it will pay unless the $500 is actually your deductible, assuming you even have one.
posted by wierdo at 12:36 PM on February 12, 2013

I would call your benefits coordinator at your workplace and ask for their help.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 1:20 PM on February 12, 2013

Much delayed follow-up: my HR person at work contacted the insurance company, who eventually sent me a letter (in French) saying that their US insurance counterpart never got the bill from the US hospital, and that I need to send the original bill (which I never received) to this second insurance company (which I have never been in contact with).

So I strongly doubt they're going to be much help either.

In the meantime, this U.S. hospital keeps calling and telling me I owe them money, despite my repeated request that they deal with the insurer, which is the party they should be dealing with. They -- again -- refuse to mail me any documentation (it's "against policy" to mail anything to a non-U.S. address) and I don't own a fax machine.

I live close to the border and travel to the U.S. on short trips on a regular basis, and I continue to be a little worried that this passionate dedication to absolute incompetence is going to somehow come back to bite me on the keister at some point.
posted by Shepherd at 3:24 PM on April 1, 2013

Tell them it's against your policy to mail anything to a non-Canadian address. Alternatively, have the hospital send the bill directly to the US-based insurance company.
posted by wierdo at 3:19 PM on April 2, 2013

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