Jump to content

Question About Medical Bill Collection


Recommended Posts

I got a threatening letter from a collection agency (which is reporting on my credit report) for a bill they say I owe. It is for $73.00. I am going to ask for debt validation. The letter said they expect full PAYMENT (they used capital letters) by 2-22-07 and steps taken agaisnt me will depend on my response.

My questions are:

1. Do/will collection agencies sue for a small bill?

2. How long is a medical bill allowed to be reported on your credit report?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It is up to the individual CA as to whether or not they will sue no matter what the amount will be. It would seem unlikely for that small of an amount, but not impossible.

The reporting period for this debt is the same as any other.

Now, do you know what this is for and do you actually owe this? Was it something not covered by insurance, a co-pay or deductible maybe and if insurance paid at all do you have the explanation of benefits still?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Every bill from a collection agency sounds "threatening", so that doesn't surprise me. That's how they get people to pay. What, do you think "hi, pay when you get a chance" works?!? No, it's pay NOW or we're going to sue you.

First of all, a lawyer costs more than $73 so no, chances are they aren't going to sue you. If it was $7,300, maybe. But $73, I doubt it. That doesn't mean it won't happen...it's just unlikley.

Bottom line is, whether is $1 or $1,000, you should always send a DV. Don't just pay a bill because someone says you owe it.



Edited by kevin3344
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Remember that they cannot overshadow the 30 day notice. As far as suing for $70, it is done frequently. It is the attorney "road show"

CA attorneys generally work for dozens of CA's, OC's, hospitals, etc. Accordingly, on any given week, they can have dozens of cases in a single community. They batch their cases by date and location so that on a given day in court, they are prosecuting a number of claims; not just yours.

If you look at the court docket, you'll likely find that attorney's name on it for a dozen or so cases. Possibly for that many different clients.

Your first appearance in court is usually an answer hearing, though in some instances you may have filed a written answer and not need to appear in person (check your rules).

The judge will begin with the first case on the docket "#CV 026 Asset v. Mr. Smith" The plaintiff's attorney will make their presence known and the judge will ask if Mr. Smith is present. (Unless you've filed a written answer, in which case the plaintiff's attorney will notify the judge that an answer has been filed and request a conference or trial date.) If you're answering in person, you acknowledge your presence. The judge will ask you if you wish to deny the allegations or confess judgment.

If you deny the allegations, the judge will let you know you have x number of days to file a written answer. He may or may not set a pre-trial conference date at that time. If you confess judgment, a judgment will be entered and likely the judge will request you stay until after he completes the docket call so you can meet with plaintiff's counsel to make payment arrangements. Usually it's no more than 30 minutes to an hour that you have to wait.

Your answer hearing takes all of about a minute. So, in 15-30 minutes that one CA attorney will have made an appearance for 10-20 claims. 95% of which the defendant doesn't appear for or ever answer, and a default judgment is entered. Of the 5% that do appear, 90% of those will confess judgment.

Afterwards, the attorney will make the hour drive to the next county and repeat the process. Believe it or not, many county courts stagger the days and times for these types of cases to accomodate these "road show" attorneys.

So never consider the distance or the amount of the claim as a hinderance to the plaintiff. They're probably going to be there anyway, and since they count on the default judgment, it doesn't really matter if it's for $100 or $10,000.

This is also why it's a good idea to fight a claim. They don't want to eventually waste an hour appearing at trial for a $500 suit when they could spend that hour getting 10 default judgments. If you put up any kind of a defense, even a frivilous one, the odds are in your favor they will simply dismiss their claim.

The actual procedures will vary by state, but it's generally along these lines.

These "road show" attorneys are usually fresh out of law school and have limited or no trial experience. For the most part they are paid a salary, not a percentage (the firm gets the percentage). They are often only in it for a year or two until they have gained some courtroom experience and can get a real job. Though there are exceptions and those that get a percentage can make some big bucks.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for all the replies.

The bill is likely for an appointment in which they refused to take my insurance as payment, which they did after I left the appointment....not while I was there. It was a "trick" to make me change over to their insurance plan, and drop mine.

I will ask for DV and if they prove the debt is mine, then, maybe I will pay the debt a $1 a month.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Before you send off a DV, you need to contact your insurance carrier. If insurance is involved, this is where you start.

1. You would need to prove your claim of their refusal as you stated.

2. If, as you claim, they accepted your insurance information, you may have


A. Any provider who accepts assignment from a patient/beneficiary must

abide by all rules and regualtions set by the insurance carrier.

B. A patient/beneficiary is not responsible for any amount not shown on

an EOB from insurance as patient responsibility, copay, or cost share.

C. A provider cannot bill for any amount over "allowed amount", if bill is

not paid for some reason, such as deductible not met. An example is

that the provider billed for $400, and allowed amount is $75, but, was

not paid as deductible had not been met at that time. The provider

can only bill for the $75. It is called balance billing and a violation of

Federal Law.

D. A provider cannot bill for any amount determined to be "mutually

exclusive". This is usually found in ER bills if care was given between

8 PM and 6 AM.

E. A provider cannot bill for any noncovered treatment unless handled as

described by carrier. An example is that some carriers require the

noncovered items be identified and signed for prior to treatment. If not,

the treatment is free.

Too many times a person in the billing office does not do their job properly and bills for items they shouldn't. This is why I say to contact your insurance carrier. They will asssit you. Have them send you a copy of any EOB for this particular time and provider. Also note that many carriers have special sections to assist in this type of problem. Some other important things to note are:

1. Many carriers have a set time period for filing claims. An example is that

a provider has one year from date of service to file claim, or, they must

write off as a loss and not bill the patient. You snooze, you lose.

2. If a claim is returned unpaid for lack of info, or some other reason, it is

the responsibility of the provider to correct this, not the patient.

3. Some carriers forbid a provider from sending a bill to collections. They require the provider to contact them.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This topic is now closed to further replies.

  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.