jjohns39

Med account came back verified need help settling

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I have two medical accounts with the same hospital, one from 2009 and the other from 2010. I have already DV'd both accounts and they came back verified. My problem now is how to go about settling both accounts. The largest of the two accounts has a current past due amount of $7200 with an original balance of $5000 which they tacked on $1200 in interest. Originally I was planning on sending a settlement letter to Progressive management, the CA, however I chose to call them instead and see if I could settle with them for a lower amount via phone. They did inform me that they were in fact NOT the owners of the debt and that the hospital was still the OC. They were not very willing to work with me on the debt at all and only willing to negotiate a small portion of the interest they had tacked on. I didn't argue with them, or even make an offer on what I was willing to pay as I did not want to stir up to much trouble until I was prepared to settle completely. I decided I would call the OC and upon doing so I have now found out that the hospital does not keep any records of their debt after a certain number of years and referred me back to the CA.  Now I'm not really sure where to go from here. Do I send a settlement letter to the CA offering a lower settlement, or do I somehow try to settle with the OC? It was my understanding that most CA's would generally be a little more forgiving when working with medical debt, however this does not seem to be the case. I can only afford to pay a small percentage of the original debt, but I'm not sure how I can make that happen. Any insight would be appreciated!

 

Thanks!, 

Josh

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Before you can proceed further did you use insurance at the time you incurred the charges at the provider?  If you did then contractually and LEGALLY they cannot discount the amount.  Providing you with a discount after insurance paid their portion would be illegal rebating.  If you were uninsured then many providers will settle for less than owed within a reasonable time frame.  4-5 years later not so much.  No matter what you cannot force a provider to accept less than what they are due for the services rendered.

 

The one issue you can tackle right now is the interest this CA tacked on.  Unless you signed a contract with the provider agreeing to pay interest if you did not pay the charges and it is sent to collections they cannot add on interest simply because they choose to do so.  I would dispute their legal right to collect interest and question what rate they are applying and for how long.  

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Go to This forum specializing in medical collections. Why Chat is the Forum expert. Also see Why Chat's Credit Confusion website and go to the HIPAA section.

 

http://whychat.5u.com/ 

 

Medical collections can be handled better through this method. This is a way to pay the Hospital and get rid of the CA.

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I would take issue with the fact that the hospital does not have records to properly substantiate the debt. It sounds like the hospital told you by phone they don't have records. I would send a certified letter asking for an itemized invoice for all medical services provided to you. I suggest you give them 30 days to provide the records. Keep the letter short and sweet.

 

If they write back and provide the records, then you have a starting point for a negotiation with the CA. However, if they don't have any records (which it appears they don't) I would send a follow up letter to both the hospital and CA stating this, and requesting a deletion from the credit bureaus and cancellation of any further collection efforts.

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Sorry, missed that about not having the records. Good suggestion. If I were you I'd still peruse the medical forum I posted and re post this issue there.

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Thanks for the help. 

 

Determined1: It sounds like what you are suggesting would be similar to a 623 letter. Is this correct? If so, I have a question about that. When I spoke with the hospital they indeed did say that they no longer have the records. However when I spoke with the CA they claimed that they did. If I do go the route of sending a 623 letter to the OC will it make any difference if the CA claims to have accurate information or is that irrelevant if the OC does not have accurate records?

 

Thanks!

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Sounds very suspicious to me. Who is it reporting on your credit reports? I'd still send it only to the hospital. They are required to keep the records. You can send a 623 to the hospital. You goal is to keep the CA out of it.

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Go to This forum specializing in medical collections. Why Chat is the Forum expert. Also see Why Chat's Credit Confusion website and go to the HIPAA section.

 

http://whychat.5u.com/ 

 

Medical collections can be handled better through this method. This is a way to pay the Hospital and get rid of the CA.

 

DO NOT waste your time with this method.  There is absolutely NO legal basis to this alleged "miracle method" to removing medical debt.  Why it works sometimes is because the CA no longer has a business agreement with the OC and therefore cannot legally validate.  You DV'd and they validated and confirmed that they do have a current business agreement. It is NOT a HIPAA violation to report medical debt on a credit report despite what this "method" claims.  What those supporters of this nonsense don't tell you is buried in the fine print:  YOU WILL BE PAYING THE BILL.  

 

WhyChat will tell you all kinds of garbage about "data mining" of medical provider accounts which is a LIE because of the HITEC Act which requires the highest level of security for those records.  They will tell you that you are being dunned by the CA because a junk debt buyer "data mined" your information from the hospital yet if you research this there is NOT one reported case of this happening.  Rarely do medical providers sell their debt because of HIPAA.

 

For more information on HIPAA and credit reporting:  

 

http://www.hhs.gov/o...osures/268.html

 

Does the HIPAA Privacy Rule prevent health plans and providers from using debt collection agencies? Does the Privacy Rule conflict with the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act?

 

Answer:

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” at45 CFR 164.501. Through a business associate arrangement, the covered entity may engage a debt collection agency to perform this function on its behalf. Disclosures to collection agencies are governed by other provisions of the Privacy Rule, such as the business associate and minimum necessary requirements.

The Department is not aware of any conflict between the Privacy Rule and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Where a

use or disclosure of protected health information is necessary for the covered entity to fulfill a legal duty, the Privacy Rule would permit such use or

disclosure as required by law.

 

http://www.hhs.gov/o...nesses/267.html

 

Does the HIPAA Privacy Rule prevent reporting to consumer credit reporting agencies or otherwise create any conflict with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)?

Answer:

 

No. The Privacy Rule’s definition of “payment” includes disclosures to consumer reporting agencies. These disclosures, however, are limited to the following protected health information about the individual: name and address; date of birth; social security number; payment history; and account number. In addition, disclosure of the name and address of the health care provider or health plan making the report is allowed. The covered entity may perform this payment activity directly, or may carry out this function through a third party, such as a collection agency, under a business associate arrangement.

The Privacy Rule permits uses and disclosures by the covered entity or its business associate as may be required by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) or other law. Therefore, the Department does not believe there is a conflict between the Privacy Rule and legal duties imposed on data furnishers by FCRA.

 

Does the HIPAA Privacy Rule permit a covered entity or its collection agency to communicate with parties other than the patient (e.g., spouses or guardians) regarding payment of a bill?

 

Answer:

 

Yes. The Privacy Rule permits a covered entity, or a business associate acting on behalf of a covered entity (e.g., acollection agency), to disclose protected health information as necessary to obtain payment for health care, and does not limit to whom such a disclosure may be made.

Therefore, a covered entity, or its business associate, may contact persons other than the individual as necessary to obtain payment for health care services. See 45 CFR 164.506© and the definition of “payment” at 45 CFR 164.501. However, the Privacy Rule requires a covered entity, or its business associate, to reasonably limit the amount of information disclosed for such purposes to the minimum necessary, as well as to abide by any reasonable requests for confidential communications and any agreed-to restrictions on the use or disclosure of protected health information. See 45 CFR 164.502( , 164.514(d), and 164.522.

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Thanks for the help. 

 

Determined1: It sounds like what you are suggesting would be similar to a 623 letter. Is this correct? If so, I have a question about that. When I spoke with the hospital they indeed did say that they no longer have the records. However when I spoke with the CA they claimed that they did. If I do go the route of sending a 623 letter to the OC will it make any difference if the CA claims to have accurate information or is that irrelevant if the OC does not have accurate records?

 

Thanks!

 

if the CA has the billing records they can provide the information.  The have a current business relationship and therefore it is not a HIPAA violation.  If the CA has not billing records THEN you have a lot of ammunition because the hospital has already said the CA has them.  If this is a large medical facility they often have their own CA as a subsidiary and transfer records on accounts in collections directly to them for expedience.

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@jjohns39

 

If the hospital is not reporting the debt to the CRAs (credit reporting agencies), it would do no good to send a 623 letter to the hospital because they are not reporting.  It would be sent to the collection agency.

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Ignore Clydesmom, they were tossed off the medical forums for thread jacking and insulting the forum admin. Here is just one thread where Clydesmom got the ire of the Staff and pissed off the OP..

 

http://creditboards.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=513491&hl=clydesmom#entry4866974 

 

Here is another discussion of the how/why Why Chat's does work.

 

http://consumers.creditnet.com/Discussions/credit-talk/68594-medical-bills-collection-agency-my-credit-report-help-2.html 

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user-offline.png Senior Member
 
Join Date Nov 2003 Posts 662
quote_icon.png Originally Posted by TeeVeeDude viewpost-right.png
It is not illegal for the collection agency to put the collection on your credit report.

So why would it suddenly be illegal for it to be there after you have paid it? If it is correctly reporting as a paid collection, and it is correctly coded as a medical collection, there is no HIPAA violation. HIPAA doesn't even mention credit reports or collections.
 
 
 

The rationale for Whychat's method is correct.



Say you have a collection on your report.



Then you pay the medical provider directly and in so doing direct them not to share any further information with the collector.



Then you ask the collector for validation.



There is no further business purpose for the provider to share any information with the collector. But the collector must have the information in order to validate. And without validating the collector cannot continue to report, and cannot respond if you dispute with a credit reporting agency.



Legally, the collection must come off your report.



It

is

a Catch-22 for the provider and the collector, but the law is full of those.

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@BV80

 

Will sending a 623 letter to the CA have any effect whatsoever? My understanding of the 623 was that it was only for the OC and not the CA. Obviously I could be mistaken. 

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I'm simply trying to prevent Clydesmom from disparaging someone's methods. She has been spouting this rabid anti Why Chat crap too long. She has been proven wrong.

 

Flacorps is a Florida attorney and the above post is his take on its use.

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@jjohns39

 

The letter is sent to the furnisher who is reporting on a CR.

 

Since the OC is not reporting, they are not bound by the FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act).

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@BV80

 

Will sending a 623 letter to the CA have any effect whatsoever? My understanding of the 623 was that it was only for the OC and not the CA. Obviously I could be mistaken. 

 

It might work.  In my first response to you I asked if insurance was involved.  Did you have coverage that paid any portion of the expense because it could affect how you word the dispute.  DO NOT simply copy a 623 or DV letter off the internet.  

 

I have 30 years in the medical field including coding and billing and am WELL versed in this subject.  The questions those of us who DO know the system are asked for a reason and to help you best solve this issue.

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@Credithis

 

Forums can differ on suggested approaches.   It's not necessary to disparage a member based upon what happened on another forum.

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@Clydesmom  My apologies for overlooking your question. No, there is not any insurance involved in this claim. I was uninsured at the time of hospitalization. 

 

No worries.  Okay, if the hospital still had the records you could ask for charity care though it would be a long shot on 4-5 year old bills.  It still can't hurt to try with the CA the worst that can happen is they say no.

 

The thing to know is that they have a current business relationship with the hospital which means none of this communication they have with you about the debt violates HIPAA.  

 

You DEFINITELY need to challenge that added interest because there is NO provision in the hospital financial agreement to pay interest to a CA for care rendered.  They are padding the account.  I would first DV or 623 them because if they can produce NO records to substantiate their charge you have them over a barrel knowing the hospital doesn't have anything either.  If they don't delete and drop it at that point you can file a complaint with the CFPB for reporting a debt they cannot validate and adding the illegal interest.

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She has been proven wrong.

 

Flacorps is a Florida attorney and the above post is his take on its use.

 

No I am not wrong and my 30 years in the medical field including billing and coding back it up.

 

You failed to notice the MOST important thing about that post from flacorps:

 

It is not illegal for the collection agency to put the collection on your credit report.

 

HIPAA has changed quite a bit in the ELEVEN years since he joined the forum and posted that response.  Under HIPAA today if the CA and the OC still have a business relationship they can merely update the account to state "paid and closed" and it is NOT a violation of HIPAA.  Once the account has been closed there is NO reason to continue updating but like any other creditor they can leave it on the credit report for the entire 7 year statutory reporting period and it does NOT violate HIPAA.  

 

The reason the "method" works is the same reason any other credit account gets deleted when a CA cannot validate:  because they no longer have the business relationship to service that account and therefore under the FCRA cannot legally validate.  NOTHING more.  It isn't related to HIPAA and while small medical providers might be frightened by that medical nutcase letter, large providers like hospitals and multi-provider clinics know better and are not scared by a baseless HIPAA threat.  The simply laugh and hold up the letter stating "we got another one" then update the account as paid and closed.  End of story.  

 

You can read the LAW through the DHS OCR links I posted which comes directly from their statements on HIPAA and credit reporting.  DHS has yet to act on a HIPAA violation complaint based on billing.  There is also no private right of action under HIPAA so a patient cannot sue the provider for continuing to report if DHS refuses to act.

 

 

 

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Thanks for the help. 

 

Determined1: It sounds like what you are suggesting would be similar to a 623 letter. Is this correct? If so, I have a question about that. When I spoke with the hospital they indeed did say that they no longer have the records. However when I spoke with the CA they claimed that they did. If I do go the route of sending a 623 letter to the OC will it make any difference if the CA claims to have accurate information or is that irrelevant if the OC does not have accurate records?

 

Thanks!

 

Hi jjohns39,

 

You're welcome. It's not a 623 letter because the hospital is not reporting the information. If you choose to send this letter, don't cite the FCRA or Section 623, which is why I suggest a short and sweet, brief written request.

 

Just because the CA claims to have records to back up their claim, doesn't mean they do. Many collection agents are trained to mislead people into paying a bill, regardless of the accuracy of it. I think BV80 is correct in suggesting a letter to the CA. I would underline the words "itemized invoice" in your request. You already have a bill, and one that has been padded with interest, so you know they are capable of inventing the amount you owe. 

 

The reason I like sending a similar letter to the hospital is, the CA is unlikely to have an itemized invoice, which may contain your medical treatment info. If you can rule out in writing that neither party has proper itemized records to substantiate the bill you've received, you are in a strong position to demand the entry's removal from your credit report and more effectively deal with their bill.

 

@BV80, if the CA added interest $1200 interest improperly, could this be a violation of FDCPA, Section 807 (A) ?

 

807. False or misleading representations  [15 USC 1692e]

 

A debt collector may not use any false, deceptive, or misleading representation or means in connection with the collection of any debt. Without limiting the general application of the foregoing, the following conduct is a violation of this section:

 

(A) the character, amount, or legal status of any debt; or

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user-offline.png Senior Member

 

HEADS UP EVERYONE:  The poster that is referenced in the above quote is indeed an attorney but you should be aware that he area of practice was in taxation law and as a COLLECTIONS ATTORNEY.  This explains why his answer on the medical debt was WRONG regarding HIPAA.  He no longer practices law according to his Amazon profile.  According to the profile he now operates a business that helps start ups incorporate.  He hasn't practiced as an attorney in 12 years which means he is likely out of touch with current legal changes especially in regards to HIPAA where he has NEVER practiced law in that area.

 

He claims to be a "reformed" collections attorney and has self published a book on surviving debt.  I don't know about anyone else but I would be HIGHLY suspicious of even an alleged reformed collections attorney giving advice on how to settle debts or deal with debt collectors.  He posts on several boards like this one and I would advise checking ANYTHING he tells you to do with a competent consumer attorney that IS advocating for your rights.  

 

Here is the major relevant part of that profile:

 

born in Tampa, Florida, a fourth-generation Floridian, graduated from the University of Virginia and the University of Florida School of Law, lived and practiced law in Gainesville, FL, Tallahassee, Denver (where he earned an LLM in Taxation) and Miami, and returned to the Tampa Bay Area in 2002 where he operates Florida Incorporators, Inc. an online incorporation service. Having worked as a collections attorney for the Florida Department of Transportation in Tallahassee

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