Medical bill that never arived
January 13, 2015 4:53 PM   Subscribe

I had a lab test a few days after my insurance changed. I hadn't been provided with new insurance cards at the time (despite begging for them over the phone), so the test was sent off without my insurance info, and I was told that a bill would be sent to me which I could then forward to my insurer for reimbursement. This was four months ago, and I still haven't received a bill.

- Should I call up the company who ran the test and ask for it?
- If I don't put the effort in to track this down, could this end up going into collections without my ever receiving a bill?
- Is there a time after which it will be too late to submit it to my insurer for reimbursement?
posted by insoluble uncertainty to Work & Money (8 answers total)
Best answer: No harm in calling to see what's up.

I recently moved, and despite me setting up mail forwarding, an ambulance company only sent one bill to my old address before deciding that they couldn't find me and sent it off to Collections instead. It's paid off, but yes. Stuff like this happens.
posted by spinifex23 at 5:09 PM on January 13, 2015

Best answer: You should absolutely call your provider and the place that provided the service. I just spent 4 hours on the phone with my health care provider because they waited a whole damn year to tell me I had outstanding charges totaling thousands of dollars. (I won and don't have to pay.) Better now than never to know what happened.
posted by Hermione Granger at 5:25 PM on January 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Specifically in response to this: If I don't put the effort in to track this down, could this end up going into collections without my ever receiving a bill?

That exact thing happened to me. A lab didn't have my address on file (!) so rather than getting it from the doc, they sent the bill to collections after several months of non-payment (because I never received a bill). I got a notice from a legit collection agency and had to pay them directly. Luckily, they didn't report it to the credit reporting agencies, but it was sure an annoying thing.

I'm more proactive now about contacting a lab or provider directly, but I usually give it about 2-3 months since their billing seems to take a while. If you're at 4 months, I'd give the lab a call.
posted by Uncle Glendinning at 5:51 PM on January 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

1. Yes.
2. YES, and the time frames can be very short.
3. Yes, how long depends on your insurer.

Call the place tomorrow and ask for the bill and also an account statement (so you can verify that you have no outstanding balance with them). Don't wait for them to figure it out or get around to it; it won't end in your favor.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 5:52 PM on January 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

...Why wouldn't you just call the lab company and ask? I don't think you're going to get away without having to ever pay this, if that is your hope. My guess is the bill got lost in the mail somehow. Even if the charge is $0, I always still get a bill.
posted by AppleTurnover at 5:53 PM on January 13, 2015

Don't let outstanding medical debt bite you in the ass at a later date. It's probably past the regular time period that you have to submit to your insurer but you can probably file for some kind of appeal.
posted by radioamy at 7:10 PM on January 13, 2015

- If I don't put the effort in to track this down, could this end up going into collections without my ever receiving a bill?

This could depend on location. I had a similar issue where it was more taking the insurance forever to pay out, and I'm pretty confident in my research that I learned MA does not allow medical bills to go to collections.

There are also some places where if you're not billed for services within x amount of time, then you do not owe the bill.
posted by zizzle at 6:56 AM on January 14, 2015

Response by poster: Thanks so much for all the answers. I called the lab that performed the test and they were still trying to bill my old insurance (which I didn't realize they had on file), which is why I never received a bill. It only took about 5 min to give them my new insurance info and confirm that they have my address in case I end up owing anything, and now I feel much better about it!
posted by insoluble uncertainty at 10:43 AM on January 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

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