Hospital about to turn over past due bill to collector

by Sean
(Bearden, AR)

In September of '09, we were out of state and had to take my daughter to the ER to get 3 stitches for a cut. About a month later, I received a bill for $547.00. I called thinking the insurance should have paid but found out they did not because it was considered out of network. The itemized bill was for an ER visit and sutures. Although I thought $547 was a lot for 3 stitches, I paid it.
A year after the ER visit, I received a second bill for over $650. I immediately called and was told the first bill was the doctor's bill and this was the hospital's bill. They could not tell me why it took a year for them to send me a bill, nor why the cost was so much (a total of $1100 for 3 stitches.) After giving me the run around, I filed a complaint with the state's consumer affair department. When the hospital received the complaint, I was told by the hospital billing supervisor that they could no longer talk to me because I had filed a complaint.
Yesterday, I received a notice stating I have 10 days to pay the bill which I had been disputing or they will turn the account over to collections unless I make payment arrangements. The problem is, they won't return my calls. I have called 6 times today but no one will answer in the office; neither will anyone tell me if the person I need to talk to is even working due to the holidays.
What actions do I need to take?

Comments for Hospital about to turn over past due bill to collector

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Dec 27, 2010
Past Due Medical Bill About to be Turned Over to Collector
by: Mary

Thanks for sharing your collection story with us.

I agree that the amount you are being asked to pay is a lot for stitches, but emergency room care is very expensive. Also, hospitals and other medical providers have become very aggressive about collecting the money that they believe they are owed, so I am not surprised that you are being threatened with having your debt turned over to a debt collector.

I don't know the policies of the hospital or the state where it is located regarding communications with individuals who file a formal complaint as you did. Therefore, I think your first step should be to get in touch with the agency with whom you filed the complaint to find out if the hospital is entitled to cease communications with you. You should also find out what the process is once a complaint has been filed against a hospital and if the hospital is entitled to turn your debt over to collections while your complaint is outstanding.

Depending on what you learn, you may want to consult with a consumer law attorney who helps consumers resolve their debt collection problems in the state where the hospital is located. Find out how to get FREE or low cost legal advice about debt collection from a consumer law attorney here.

If the hospital is entitled to continue trying to collect the money that you owe while your complaint against the hospital is being resolved, you can also ask the attorney to contact the hospital billing department on your behalf to try to work out a payment plan given that you've been unable to communicate with anyone in that department. Setting up a written payment plan would be preferable to having the debt turned over to a debt collector who may decide to sue you for the money. Furthermore, I would imagine that the attorney could ensure that language be inserted into the agreement requiring that if it turns out you were billed too much by the hospital, that the appropriate adjustments must be made.

Good luck!

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