by Katie
(Shippenburg, PA)

I was rushed to the ER on February 26, 2010 due to ovarian cysts that were leaking fluid and caused me to be in extreme blinding pain, I couldn't even walk ( they thought it was appendicitis though so several tests were ran) . I never recieved paperwork (they said they sent it) in the mail after my visit so I figured the insurance company had recieved the claim. Then on Nov.19th, I was contacted during work by the collections agency stating that I owed over $5000 ( not sure the exact amount at the moment but it was over 5000) I tried to explain that I had insurance and I would submit the claim again but they told me it was too late to run the claim because I'm only given 120 days after the visit to resubmit and told me that I must set up a payment plan (which they have me starting my first payment on this Friday, 11/25) . I am a college student with loans and other financial obligations and cannot afford to pay that amount of money when the insurance is supposed to cover half of the costs. Please tell me if there is anything that I could do?

Also, I do not know how much the orginal claim is for? I did not realize that it would be different than the +$5000 amount. I live in Pennsyvlania.

Comments for advice?

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Nov 26, 2010
Medical debt
by: Mary

Thanks for sharing your collection story with us.

So sorry to learn about your medical and financial problems.

It seems to me that you have a number of different issues to resolve. First, have you contacted the business office of the hospital where you were treated as well as your insurance company to try to find out what happened to your claim and why it was not processed and paid? Have you asked your insurance company why you did not receive any information from it about what you owed? If you did not, I would contact both parties immediately. You should also ask your insurance agent or plan administrator to help you figure out what happened to your claim.

Also, did you ever receive anything in the mail from the debt collector about the fact that he was trying to collect money from you after the collector first contacted you by phone? The federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act requires that he follow up his initial phone call with a written notice. Therefore, if you never received that notice, the collector broke the law and you may be able to take legal action against the collector.

Another issue is the amount of the payments that the collector says that you must make. Did you provide the collector with information that helped him determine that amount? You should not agree to any payments you cannot afford to make because if you don't make them you risk being sued.

Given the complexities of your situation, I strongly advise you to schedule an initial appointment with a consumer law attorney in your area who helps people resolve their debt collection problems. (The first appointment should be free.) Find out how to get FREE or low cost legal advice about debt collection from a consumer law attorney here. I would take action right away. You do not want to add a lawsuit to your list of problems!

Please share what happens with your situation in the comments section for this question. We are very interested in hearing how this turns out for you, and your experience can help others who are struggling with debt collectors.

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