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For Anyone Who Doesn't Understand Why We Despise Debt Collectors

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You need only read THIS article.

 

Granted, this debt collector's alleged behavior is way more egregious than your every day violation, but on the other hand, conduct this extreme occurs way too often (as far as I am concerned, once is way too often).

 

 

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Hate how they have to bash the hospital here.  It was not a mistaken debt. The hospital treats the patient, they do not treat medicare or workers comp.  The patient is responsible for making sure payment is made.  I've seen too many friends who are hospital employees lose jobs because of hospital closures over the past decade.

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You want to see a waste of court time, lets see a patient pay a hospital bill and then sue their insurance company or turn around and bring the insurance company into the lawsuit against the patient.

I ran into that years ago with a $500 ER bill due to a severe sprain on my foot falling down the Library steps (my fault as I was talking to my brothers and not looking properly). The insurance company at first refused to pay saying that I should sue the city library for the injury. I immediately appealed and the basis of my appeal was that either they pay it or I will pay it and sue them.

Lets say that it did get as far as the hospital suing me. At that point, I would bring in the insurance company who in turn would bring in the city library. Can you say 3-ring circus and the poor judge then gets to decide who is responsible.

Now my case was $500 which I can easily afford out of my emergency funds. Lets say this is a $40k heart attack where the insurance company is playing hardball. Quite a bit harder for someone to pay the hospital and hope that they can get it back from the insurance company through appeals or the courts.

Even if the patient owes the hospital and not the insurance company, the creditor has a duty to figure out who owes them and they certainly cannot treat people in an abusive manner. The collection company is an arm of the hospital in the sense that as long as the hospital does not sell them the debt, they represent the hospital. Hence, that is why they are included. Now a judge may find that the hospital itself is not responsible for the actions of their collector but you still include them. Otherwise, you get a case where the collector claims that the hospital wanted to act this way.

There was a case the Minnesota AG covered recently where the hospital hired a collector who was strong-arming people and threatening to not perform required emergency care without a payment made which is illegal. The AG went after both and although the hospital was found to not have committed any violations, it still was a black eye for the hospital for allowing such collection tactics (it was also a black eye for Chicago and Mayor Rahm who tried to stop the MN AG from taking any action).

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Unfortunately, people don't know their rights, and will get depressed about 50 phone calls a day vs. a sigh of relief with a C&D letter. It people weren't so ignorant about their rights under the law, our country would be that much better.

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I've heard of others that had gone to the ER and were confronted by JDB's prior to being waited on. They were like buzzards gathering for the kill. Don't pay your past bill or we won't see you. It happened quiet often.

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In April 2012, Diana Mey of West Va.  won a $10 million dollar judgement against Reliant Finanacial Assoc.  She received phone calls that her Caller ID said were from her local sheriff.  The callers later threatened to rape her.  She has never been able to collect her judgment.

 

www.partneringwitheagles.wordpress.com/2012/04/page/2/

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Even if the patient owes the hospital and not the insurance company, the creditor has a duty to figure out who owes them 

 

The patient owes them, no one else does. There is no duty for the hospital to chase after insurance companies.  The hospital has no recourse to sue the insurance company directly for payment.  Hospital has no way of knowing if policy limits were reached, or any other contractual agreements/limitations exist between the patient and the third party insurance company.  If the patient has a third party company that is going to indemnify the hospital on behalf of the patient, it is the patients responsibility to see it through and that it gets taken care of!

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The patient owes them, no one else does. There is no duty for the hospital to chase after insurance companies.  The hospital has no recourse to sue the insurance company directly for payment.  Hospital has no way of knowing if policy limits were reached, or any other contractual agreements/limitations exist between the patient and the third party insurance company.  If the patient has a third party company that is going to indemnify the hospital on behalf of the patient, it is the patients responsibility to see it through and that it gets taken care of!

 

I don't think anyone disputes that. The issue however, is the conduct of the debt collector. I'd like to think you're not condoning the alleged violative behavior merely because the consumer may be responsible for the debt. I know you've been around long enough to know that the hospital is well aware of the collection methods of the debt collectors they hire. As far as this consumer advocate is concerned the hospital gets no pass from me, debt or no debt.

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As someone who has worked in hospitals (not in the business dept or collections) for many years, I can tell you that hospitals very agressively pursue debtors.  Yes, they do absorb the costs of some uninsured patients, but if you have a job or assets, they will pursue you.  I think at least half of all bankruptcies are due to medical debt.

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As someone who not only has had hospital bills I have disputed but also LOST THEIR JOB because the medical practice closed due to the sheer number of patients who owed money (sometimes thousands) they refused to pay I can say that the refusal to pay is way worse than people know or will admit.

 

I do NOT condone some of the abusive collection practices such as "you can't check into the ER until we get a payment" or anything of that nature.

BUT, the reality is that when a patient (or a parent of a minor) signs the form stating I want treatment and I am responsible that means if insurance does NOT pay then the patient or guarantor DOES.  Many people just do not understand that.  Having insurance doesn't mean you pay nothing and it doesn't mean if they deny the claim you con't have to pay.

 

This whole nonsense of the creditor has a duty to know who owes them is half the problem.  While hospitals make billing mistakes as much as any other business does, if you went to the facility and got an xray on March 4, 2013 and they send you a bill for services on March 4, 2013 it isn't rocket science that you have a bill.  If your third party payer states that you haven't reached your deductible and your responsibility is $250 for that service and you ignore 90 days worth of bills from the hospital why would ANYONE be shocked they get turned over to collections?  If the insurance doesn't pay the majority of patients assume or believe they don't have to because they had insurance.  

 

If patients paid what they legally owed when they first got a bill or at least set up payment arrangements (most hospitals will take as little as $5 a month as long as you pay) then there would be no need to involve a collection agency.  This attitude of blaming the creditor for exercising their right to be paid is unbelievable when the debtor KNOWS they got care, received service, then ignored the bills.  Suddenly both the hospital and the collection agency are evil for pursuing payment.

 

 

 

 I know you've been around long enough to know that the hospital is well aware of the collection methods of the debt collectors they hire. As far as this consumer advocate is concerned the hospital gets no pass from me, debt or no debt.

 

Believe it or not, not every hospital does due diligence before hiring a collector.  One hospital system in either SC or MN got into MAJOR trouble for hiring one and it was a decision made by a bean counter that had NO idea what they were doing.  When they found out they got rid of them.  The problem is most consumers do not see a hospital as a business but if it isn't run like one they cannot stay open and IN BUSINESS which means if you get or use a service you PAY FOR IT.

 

The MAJORITY of medical providers hire decent ones who simply send a letter then put it on a credit report.  Some are persistent enough to sue.  They do not resort to illegal tactics and the ones that made the mistake of hiring ones that did quickly got rid of them either by suit by the Attorney General or public pressure after media scrutiny.  NO one condones illegal collection practices but being a consumer advocate also means advocating they pay debts they legitimately owe.  Ignoring medical bills because you don't think you should have to pay it is unethical.  You got the care:  pay for it.

 

Many private practices are now having patients sign acknowledgments that if they have a balance and owe the practice money they understand they will not be seen until it is paid.  It is the only way they can keep them from running up a balance they don't pay while getting free services.

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I agree with the fact you need to pay those medical bill, now there are some times you simply can't pay, or don't get billed. In my case also I did pay in my life all but 2 medical bills, they turn to collection a ambulance bill I never got billed for, cause they got the wrong address and found out about 2 years later. I disputed the collection got rid of it, and after it was off my credit I call the ambulance and paid them. Anyways hospitals normally do payment arrangements, forgive the debt, and or do volunteer work, which I have used and will keep using in the future, also now that I'm older and have my 401k build up, with a good insurance, I got a safety found to go after if a bill comes.

 

Don't get me wrong I still hate those nasty debt collectors that got violate the law in such a nasty way, but that doesn't mean you don't need to pay those doctors, it just means the debt collector is plain wrong.

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I agree with the fact you need to pay those medical bill, now there are some times you simply can't pay, or don't get billed. In my case also I did pay in my life all but 2 medical bills, they turn to collection a ambulance bill I never got billed for, cause they got the wrong address and found out about 2 years later. I disputed the collection got rid of it, and after it was off my credit I call the ambulance and paid them. Anyways hospitals normally do payment arrangements, forgive the debt, and or do volunteer work, which I have used and will keep using in the future, also now that I'm older and have my 401k build up, with a good insurance, I got a safety found to go after if a bill comes.

 

Don't get me wrong I still hate those nasty debt collectors that got violate the law in such a nasty way, but that doesn't mean you don't need to pay those doctors, it just means the debt collector is plain wrong.

 

Mistakes happen.  I had minor surgery and about 3 months later I got a nasty letter from the anesthesia group saying I owed over $900.  I was surprised because everyone else had been paid.  Gave them a call and at first the woman was quite curt and demeaning (not a CA the actual practice!) and she stated my insurance never paid/denied the claim.  I told her I was surprised because everyone else had been paid.  I asked her to review my insurance information with me: this is where the problem was.  Some how they must have mixed up my file with someone else's because I don't know whose insurance they were billing but it wasn't mine.

 

I gave her the correct information and two weeks later I only owed $35:  a MAJOR difference.  

The problem is many patients ignore the letters and bills when often a simple phone call would straighten the whole issue out.  Then when they do get sent to collections they want to be angry about it.  It is the double standard that angers me most.  "I don't or won't pay it but how dare you send me to collections!"

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In one case some years ago, I got an exam, they billed the insurance, and the insurance treated the facility as an out of network provider. It was like 8k, the insurance paid 50% 4k, and then the provider instead of billing me, send it to an attorney office, but not to sue me, they wanted to sue my insurance cause they did have a contract with them and they obviously didn't care. The attorney for the provider send me some papers to sign for them to sue on my behalf, and like 3-6 months later the insurance paid the whole bill, as in network. The provider could have just bill me the remaining 4k and do nothing, but they didn't they make a point to the insurance that they where wrong, and I help them by signing the papers they needed. So even though mistakes happen, sometimes providers do help. Most of the time if they are not jerks they work with you, I could keep going on things doctors and hospitals did to help me, but it's not what we should be talking about. These debt collectors are just as bad seeds and should be severely punished for that, and the health providers should look into better CA that will not do these kind of monstrosity, bad apples are everywhere and that's why we should fight to the end.

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There is a fundamental problem with the way the contractual association works.  The patient is the debtor to the hospital, not the insurer.  So the patient is stuck in the middle and this involves amounts that most patients cannot pay ... even though they are gainfully employed and have insurance (when the insurance is refusing to pay up).  One way or another, I believe that patients should be taken OUT of the "financial loop" entirely.  If the insured patient has medical care given, it needs to be a transaction between hospital and insurer.  All the pressure from the hospital to pay must be applied to the insurer only.  But this kind of thing would also require insurers to cover at legislated levels that hospitals have a say in (e.g. both parties badger the lawmakers to get their amounts written into the law ... or regulators as the case may be).

 

Letting debt collectors play this field only makes it a lot worse since their tendency is to drive people to bankruptcy.

 

Socialized or Universal health care is another way of doing this (to keep the patient out of the "financial loop").  This is actually the lowest cost direction (Sweden does this with 2/3 the cost of health care compared to the USA, figured as a percentage of GDP, while actually providing better care ... no, the USA is not number one).  But the USA just can't seem to accept the idea that paying $64 to the government for every $100 they would pay to a business is better.  Swedish taxes are higher but their citizens (and their employers) are not paying for medical insurance at all.

 

Would it ever be plausible to legislate the direct relationship between health care providers and the insurers?

 

Obamacare won't fix this.  It's already making the problem worse by putting more pressure on both sides.  But dumping Obamacare and going back to what was before won't fix it, either.

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100% agree, I used to live in Europe and my healthcare there was 0. Yes you do pay higher taxes, yes you do pay higher gas price, yes you do pay more for rent, etc, but when you got a health/disability, unemployment, maternity, and so on issue, they cover your back. Here in the states if your wife get's pregnant not only you might end paying thousands (if you don't get maternity Medicaid or something), you also lose at lest 3-5 months of household income, and then you are in a very bad financial situation, I sincerely prefer to pay higher taxes than be screw for years to come cause I can't afford to have kids, get sick, be unemployed for more than x time, and so on. We do some things in the states backwards and some others great, so is a give take situation, not everything is horrible, just some staff and healthcare is one.

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I've heard of others that had gone to the ER and were confronted by JDB's prior to being waited on. They were like buzzards gathering for the kill. Don't pay your past bill or we won't see you. It happened quiet often.

 

 

I'm a bit confused as to what you are saying here.

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I've read articles where JDB's that work for the hospitals hang around and when a person has an emergency and show up, they are confronted and made to pay up or set up payment plans on prior hospital debt before they were allowed to see a doctor. Saw it saveral times last year, don't recall where, but I did read abut it.

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I've read articles where JDB's that work for the hospitals hang around and when a person has an emergency and show up, they are confronted and made to pay up or set up payment plans on prior hospital debt before they were allowed to see a doctor. Saw it saveral times last year, don't recall where, but I did read abut it.

I read about this happening in Minnesota, and that the AG sued the JDB doing it, and they agreed to stop.

 

What I am wondering is HOW they go about preventing the patient from seeing a doctor.

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Actually the AG went after the medical group as well as the CA that part of this.

As for not seeing a doctor, I am betting that most were delayed as long as reasonably possible. I am betting that the triage nurses were ordered to talk to these people before deciding on whether they should be seen right away or to let them sit. You might have seen a doctor but it would take 48 hours and you could not leave without losing your place.

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Spears vs Brennen
An FDCPA claim “has nothing to do with whether the underlying debt is valid. An FDCPA claim concerns the method of collecting the debt. It does not arise out of the transaction creating the debt

 

Azar v. Hayter, 874 F. Supp. 1314, 1318 (N.D. Fla. 1995)
The Act makes debt collectors liable for various “abusive, deceptive, and unfair debt collection practices” regardless of whether the debt is valid.

 

McCartney v. First City Bank, 970 F.2d 45, 47 (5th Cir. 1992). Our analysis is further consistent with the well-settled principle that the FDCPA is a strict liability statute and that a consumer need not show intentional conduct by the debt collector to be entitled to damages.
 

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@Bigwoodystyl

 

Blast from the past. How are you?

 

I'm well.   I don't get on here as much as I used to.   I ran into an old friend who confessed that he had terrible credit, and so I'm in credit repair mode again, and I find that I've forgotten more than I know re: the esoteric how-to in dealing with CRA and JDB.

 

This place has changed a bit over the years..

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I've read articles where JDB's that work for the hospitals hang around and when a person has an emergency and show up, they are confronted and made to pay up or set up payment plans on prior hospital debt before they were allowed to see a doctor. Saw it saveral times last year, don't recall where, but I did read abut it.

 

Hospitals have a responsibility to provide emergency care regardless of the patient's ability to pay.

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