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trynrest

MEDICREDIT billing for alleged bills from '04 & "05

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A little help please! I recieved a call from MEDICREDIT stating I owed $1600 for some old medicial bills from 2004 and early 2005. I requested that they send the bill via USPS. A few days later I recieved a bill in the mail. As MEDICREDIT has attempted to collect on some old bills before, and I have found we payed them at the time of service. On 5/26 the day after I recieved the bill I wrote a letter requesting verification and to cease and desist any contact by phone.

 

On June 6 I recieved a reply from MEDICREDIT with several pages of billing from the OC ST FRancis hospital that list various procedures / er visit ect. It does not show any payments made any billing sent to our insurance carriers etc.

 

I know HIPPA laws would come into play, but how do I get all the information that is missing. My guess is that a lot of these bills were not filed with our insurances. Do I have any legal right to go back to ST Francis and request all the information?

 

Also MEDICREDIT has again started calling my cell phone with auto recorded messages concerning this bill. They have called 4 times to date.

 

I have sent a followup letter which includes the following :

 

Additionally, I am allowed under the HIPAA law [HEALTH INSURANCE PORTABILITY AND ACCOUNTABILITY ACT OF 1996], to protect my privacy and medical records from third parties. I do not recall giving permission to St Francis Medical Center for them to release my medical information to a third party. I am aware that the HIPAA does allow for limited information about me but anything more is to only be revealed with the patients authorization, therefore my request is twofold and as follows:

Validation of Debt and HIPAA authorization
* Please provide breakdown of fees including any collection costs and medical charges (I am specifically requesting the amount of the debt to include complete payment history, starting with the original creditor, St Francis Medical Center.)  Fields v. Wilber Law Firm, Donald L. Wilber and Kenneth Wilber, USCA-02-C-0072, 7th Circuit Court, Sept 2004..
* Provide a copy of my signature with the provider of service to release my medical information to you
* Cease any credit bureau reporting until debt has been validated.

 

ALSO

 

MEDICREDIT is in direct violation of FDCPA Section 805 ©). The certified letter I send you on May26, 2013 was a request for validation of the alleged debt. The letter contain  lawful requests:

1. For debt validation
2. That MEDICREDIT "Cease and Desist" any phone calls to me.

During the time allowed by law MEDICREDIT must provide validation, must cease phone contact or any other collection attempts. Yet MEDICREDIT continues to call my phone leaving auto recorded messages in violation of the  Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (116 Ohio St.3d 394 2007-Ohio-6833 CHARVAT, APPELLANT,v. RYAN ET AL., APPELLEES) and send billings via USPS.

It is my intention to pursue any legal remedies available to me to settle this matter. In addition I am filing a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and requesting an investigation will also be filing a complaint with the BBB.

 Unless this matter is resolved by July 26, 2013 I will exercise my options to seek legal remedies.

 

 

 

Am I ok here. I would like your thoughts, what options do I have? If we owe the money we will pay the bill, but they would have to provide evidence. I also do not want this shown on my credit reports.

 

As always thanks

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This site might help you.

http://whychat.5u.com/hipltr.html

Hospital Fair Billing and Collections

In July 2006, Illinois passed the Hospital Fair Billing and Collection

Practices Act (HB 4999). This law ensures that Illinois patients, both

the uninsured and the insured, are protected from unfair hospital

billing and collection practices. The bill established required hospital

billing practices, as well as uniform debt collection procedures

for collection agencies. The law also strictly prohibits collection

agencies and hospital attorneys from using abusive, harassing,

oppressive, false, deceptive, or misleading language during the

debt collection process. This law went into effect on January 1, 2007.

The Act requires that:

There are uniform standards and procedures for hospitals and

collection agencies involved in the billing process. For example,

no legal action may be taken against uninsured patients for

uncollected hospital bills if they have demonstrated that they

cannot meet their financial obligations because of insufficient

income and assets.

Patients are given the right to inquire about or dispute a bill.

Hospitals must post patient notifications regarding the availability

of financial assistance in the admission and registration

areas of the hospital. Information must be posted in languages

other than English if such languages are spoken in the

community.

Hospital boards must adopt fair billing and collection policies,

and any external collection agencies used by a hospital must

also abide by its policies. These boards are also expected to

approve any post-judgment collection action, for example,

wage garnishment or liens on property.

Hospitals must provide patients with timely, clear, and accessible

information regarding their bills, as well as information on

financial assistance available from the hospital or other public

institutions.

The full text of the law is available online at http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/

publicacts/fulltext.asp?Name=094-0885.

For more information on HB 4999 from the Illinois Attorney

General’s Office, go to http://www.illinoisattorneygeneral.gov/pressroom/

2006_03/20060303.html.

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Cool! I will read up on this. Do you know how this would effect the hospital being in Missouri and we live in Illinois?

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Call your insurance at the time and ask them to mail you any claim they got for those bills, if hey didn't process them start a claim yourself to your insurance, they will deny the claim and forward the denial to the OC, they cannot bill you the balance between what the contracted fee is and their bill, that's illegal, so be bye bill. Or go the violation route, and sue them. Also HIPPA does not have a private right of action, that I'm aware of at least but I'm not a HIPPA expert I just read something here and there.

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Cool! I will read up on this. Do you know how this would effect the hospital being in Missouri and we live in Illinois?

I expect that will change things.  

 

I did a search on Google and it didn't show that Missouri has any specific laws about medical billing.  However, I did find this accident lawyer who talks about medical billing in MO: 

 

http://www.autoinjury.com/lawyer-attorney-1823115.html

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Tell them to go flip sand, send them a refusal to pay letter.....they have no chance in hell collecting on that debt, it is past the SOL if they sue.

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Looking at everything from the posts. Regarding the SOL, am I right to assume that since the service was in Missouri the Missouri SOL would be in play? From a google search it looks like the SOL would be 10 years if this is considered a written contract? Since I live in Illinois I would rather use that SOL which I could argue as 5 years. Regarding a suit, this is the vberbage from my orginal verification letter :

 

  I would also like to request, in writing, that no telephone contact be made by your offices to my home or to my place of employment. If your offices attempt telephone communication with me, including but not limited to computer generated calls and calls or correspondence sent to or with any third parties, it will be considered harassment and I will have no choice but to file suit. All future communications with me MUST be done in writing and sent to the address noted in this letter by USPS.

 

Since their reciept of the letter I have recieved several auto recorded messages. Besides FDCPA 805 does The Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 apply and how can that be enforced?

 

As always thanks

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Looking at everything from the posts. Regarding the SOL, am I right to assume that since the service was in Missouri the Missouri SOL would be in play? From a google search it looks like the SOL would be 10 years if this is considered a written contract? Since I live in Illinois I would rather use that SOL which I could argue as 5 years. Regarding a suit, this is the vberbage from my orginal verification letter :

 

  I would also like to request, in writing, that no telephone contact be made by your offices to my home or to my place of employment. If your offices attempt telephone communication with me, including but not limited to computer generated calls and calls or correspondence sent to or with any third parties, it will be considered harassment and I will have no choice but to file suit. All future communications with me MUST be done in writing and sent to the address noted in this letter by USPS.

 

Since their reciept of the letter I have recieved several auto recorded messages. Besides FDCPA 805 does The Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 apply and how can that be enforced?

 

As always thanks

You can request no phone calls, but they don't have to honor that.  If you request total cease and desist (sent to them in writing), they have to honor that.  

 

How many calls within what time period?

 

In addition, if they sued you, they would be suing you in Illinois using Illinois law unless:

 

1. Illinois has a borrowing statute (meaning they can use the SOL from another state should the court accept a motion to accept foreign law)

2. The agreement says that disputes will be handled by Missouri courts and ruled by the laws of Missouri

3. They sue you in Missouri and you don't file a motion to dismiss based on improper venue (they can't expect you to appear in court in Missouri when you live in Illinois)

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OK I'm back. They are calling every other day. I am confused, I was under the impression if I included it in my letter they would have to cease phone calls. Can you elaborate?  Sarge, I am guessing you are implying this is not a writtren contract so the SOL is 5 years? Can you give me some more info, case law anything to help me get my arms around that.

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@trynrest - It's a very murky area case law wise that says if you send them a letter saying "all calls are inconvenient" that they have to abide by this though the FDCPA says you can't communicate if it's known to be incovenient.  

 

Only total Cease and Desist request will stop them from writing or calling. 

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And courts are split as to whether the law provides for a limited C&D or if its all or nothing.

 

A written contract specifically states how much and how often payment are to be made.

 

An open contract just states you will pay for what ever goods or services you receive. No specific terms are set.

 

Actually the answer is the debt itself is not a contract nor is it an open account; the real concern is under what legal theory they se if they sue you.

 

The only thing you sign that has any weight in court is the paper you sign that states you will be responsible for the debt if your ins. does not pay it. That's as close as a medical bill gets to a contract.

I know every one is going to be asking why, was there a meeting of the minds, maybe, was the price discussed? NO,,they never tell you how much everything is going to cost you, so there is no written contract.

 

Plus it is not your fault they did not bill your ins...You could use the doctrine of laches...google it its easy to understand.

SOL plus latches,,,, latches basically means "you waited too  long"

 

Medical bills fall under the fdcpa definition of a debt so a medical bill is covered by the fdcpa.

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Back from celebrating our nations birthday!  Thank you for the information you have provided. I am going to add some things I found while researching, hopefully it will help others with a similar problem!

 

Googled Laches = : negligence in the observance of duty or opportunity; specifically : undue delay in asserting a legal right or privilege. Great stuff Gunney!

 

How is your dry heat Big Sister? Been to Garcia's recently?

 

Searched the net and found this post from Jeffery Whitehead a Chicago attorney "

What is the Statute of Limitations for a Medical Bill in Illinois

A Statute of Limitations defense is always waaaay more complicated than it seems on its face.  It is no different in the medical billing context.

Most medical bills are derived from unwritten, implied contracts.  For example, if you get into a car accident and go to the emergency room, the hospital will provide service before you execute a written contract binding you agree to pay a set amount for the service.  This is an example of an implied contract.  In Illinois, the statute of limitation for implied contracts is 5 years.  See 735 ILCS 5/13-205.  But be careful.  The 5 years starts to run from the date of the last payment to the hospital for the services provided.  Not the date of service.  Also, if you moved out of the state for a period of time, the hospital may be able to defeat a statute of limitation defense.  A statute of limitation defense  can be problematic if the insurance company made payments to the hospital on behalf of the consumer.  This issue is explored in Sexton v. Brach, 124 Ill.App.3d 202, 464 N.E.2d 284 (3d Dist. 1984).

The news is worse if the consumer signed a written agreement to pay the hospital bill.  In this situation, the statute of limitation is 10 years.  See 735 ILCS 5/13-206.  However, the written agreement must be complete.  If it lacks essential terms such as price, then a court might construe the written contract as an implied contract and the the statute of limitations would be only 5 years.  See Schmidt v. Niedert, 45 Ill.App3d 9, 358 N.E.2d. 1305 (1st Dist. 1976).

In summary, the statute of limitations can be a complete defense to a medical bill.  However, be sure to examine your fact pattern for the pitfalls described above."

 

Go to Illinois Legal Aids web site and download and read Defending Hospital Collection Cases Manual) it has a wealth of information especially if you are being sued.

 

A summation of Illinois SOL:

“The test for whether a contract is written under the statute of limitations in Illinois is not whether the contract meets the requirements of the Statute of Frauds, but whether all essential terms of the contract, including the identity of the parties, are in writing and can be ascertained from the written instrument itself.” Brown v.
Goodman, supra, 147 Ill. App. 3d at 940-41 (emphasis added).

If any essential element of the contract is omitted from the writing, “‘then the contract must be treated as oral for purposes of the statute of limitations.’” Armstrong v. Guigler, 174 Ill. 2d 281, 288, 673 N.E.2d 290, 295 (1996); accord, Toth v. Mansell, 207 Ill. App. 3d 665, 669, 566 N.E.2d 730, 733 (1st Dist. 1990); Schmidt v. Niedert, 45 Ill. App. 3d 9, 13, 358 N.E.2d 1305 (1st Dist. 1976).

“Illinois courts give a strict interpretation to the meaning of a written contract within the statute of limitations. For statute of limitation purposes, a contract is considered to be written if all the essential terms of the contract are in writing and are ascertainable from the instrument itself.” Brown, 147 Ill. App. 3d at 939. If the agreement necessitates resort to parol testimony to make it complete, the law is that in applying the statute of limitations, it must be treated as an oral contract. Toth, 207 Ill. App. 3d at 671.

“The law is clear in Illinois that to constitute a written contract under the statute of limitations, the written instrument itself must completely identify the parties to the contract.” Brown, 147 Ill. App. 3d at 940 (emphasis added); accord, Railway Passenger & Freight Conductors’ Mutual Aid & Benefit Association v. Loomis, 142 Ill. 560, 32 N.E. 424 (1892); Munsterman, 106 Ill. App. 3d at 238-39; Pratl v. Hawthorn-Mellody Farms Dairy, Inc., 53 Ill. App. 3d 344, 347, 368 N.E.2d 767, 770 (1st Dist. 1977); Matzer v. Florsheim Shoe Co., 132 Ill. App. 2d 470, 472, 270 N.E.2d 75 (1st Dist. 1971); Wielander v. Henich, 64 Ill. App. 2d 228, 231-32, 211 N.E.2d 775, 776 (1st Dist. 1965).

“The issue is not whether the identity of [the parties] can be readily ascertainable from subsequent writings, the issue is whether the identity of [the parties] can be readily ascertained” from the alleged written contract “so as to avoid the resort to parol evidence.” Brown, 147 Ill. App. 3d at 940.

If testimony is necessary to establish any of these elements, the contract is treated as oral, and subject to the five-year statute. Wielander v. Henich, 64 Ill.App.2d 228, 231, 211 N.E.2d 775, 776 (1st Dist. 1965); Armstrong, 174 Ill. 2d at 288.

In the parol evidence cases, the dispositive question is whether evidence of oral representation is necessary to establish the existence of a written contract. If such evidence is required, then the contract is treated as oral for purposes of the statute of limitations. In other words, where a party is claiming a breach of written contract, but the existence of that contract or one of its essential terms must be proven by parol evidence, the contract is deemed oral and the five-year statute of limitation applies.

 

So here is what I have done so far;

 

I filed a complaint with the BBB in short stating MEDICREDIT did not provide complete information to verify the alleged bill and that they are not complying with the Cease and Desist Re autorecorded phone calls. On 7/3 Timothy Whalen of MEDICREDIT responded to the BBB that they had supplied copies of the OC invoices and updated there records to prevent any more calls. They did send copies of invoices but nothing else I requested ie. payment info, insurance info etc. Which I asked for not holding out too much hope. I am still recieving calls so I notified the BBB I refused to accept his response. If you are dealing with MEDICREDIT you may want to search BBB complaints.

 

Complaint in progress with ICC.

 

Regarding juridiction Missouri and Illinois have the same SOL for collections so as Gunney said we are well past that time frame. My only goal is to keep this off my CR. So besides the disputing process if they add it to the CRAs can I file suit?

 

Thanks again for all the help, I hope my experience can help others!

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@trynrest - Great information - I hope it helps others.  I'm sure it will.  

 

 

Regarding juridiction Missouri and Illinois have the same SOL for collections so as Gunney said we are well past that time frame. My only goal is to keep this off my CR. So besides the disputing process if they add it to the CRAs can I file suit?

 

No you can't file suit unless you are sure they don't have any documentation to back up their reporting.  You also might be able to pressure them to remove since it's past the SOL.  

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Send them a ceist and desist letter stating you are not paying peroid.  If they contact you at all after that (they are allowed to 1 more time to tell you what their intentions are ie sue or close the account) But if they contact you after that to collect, you can sue them for the FDCPA violation, and if it is on your cell phone with an automated dialer, it is a TILA violation as well.  Others may have more that you can do. :)

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I am sure glad you are all here to help, so again thanks. Drafting cease and desist letter as soon as I am sure I am doing it right..

 

Do I include that I am refusing to pay as the SOL has passed or do I KISS and use the sample letter on this site?

 

At what point does the TILA come in to play, is it only after a Cease and Desist letter? All the calls I am getting are from an automated dialer.

 

In response to my BBB complaint Timothy Whalen of MEDICREDIT responded that my record would be updated so the calls would end. Right, still getting automated calls. Since he agreed to stop the calls isn't that an admission they did not comply with my request to C&D?

 

Please understand this is not my first run in with MEDICREDIT in the previous encounters I have been able to get all the information regarding claims and have proved the bill had been paid or never sent to the insurance company everytime, usually it is the fault of St Francis Hospital's shoddy billing department. So I have had it with MEDICREDIT & the hospital.

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lets clear up something,,,a cease and desist order where you state you will not pay is called a refusal to pay letter.....All you need state in a refusal to pay letter is one sentence,,,"I refuse to pay this debt in full or any portion thereof.

 

A refusal to pay letter works as a c&d, but a lot of collection agencies do not know or do not treat a refusal to pay as a c&d order and they get the butts in hot water for it. You can sue if you send a refusal to pay and they still try to contact you.

 

I would also look into finding out if the hospital told medicredit what procedures they performed. This is not acceptable under the HIPPA laws, even if you did sign a HIPPA release they still cannot in any way mention to the CA what procedures you may have had, all they can tell the CA is how mush they think you owe.

 

You stated in your first post that they sent you a list of the procedures you had at the hospital, You need to go talk to an attorney to see what he/she thinks about HIPPA violations.

 

Under Hippa you have the right to ask for an accounting of disclosures.

What is an accounting of disclosurers? HIPPA disclosure of medical information about an individual, an accounting is a record of:

The date of the disclosure

The name of the entity who received the disclosure

A brief description of the information disclosed

A brief statement of the purpose of the disclosure (or, as an alternative, a copy of the request for a disclosure).

But, perhaps the biggest limitation is that the federal health privacy rule does not require an accounting of disclosures for treatment and payment. This means that a lot of information that you would want to find in an accounting will not be available.

 

Any person who believes that a covered entity is not complying with the HIPAA privacy rule may file a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services. Unless it has changed the number is 1-800-368-1019.

 

The Privacy Rule permits covered entities to continue to use the services of debt collection agencies. Debt collection is recognized as a payment activity within the “payment” definition. See the definition of “payment” at 45 CFR 164.501. Disclosures to collection agencies are governed by other provisions of the Privacy Rule, such as the business associate and minimum necessary requirements.

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