Is a bill over a year later legal?

by Sunita

I had to go to the emergency room because I was having trouble breathing. When I arrived I explained that I had no insurance and they offered an option to pay about $850 (I believe) for the service. I started to feel better just after I was admitted, so I signed the sheet saying I was leaving against their advice, and went home. A month or so later I got a bill for the bloodwork, which I paid in installments, even though I never received the results. Over a year later, I received another bill for over $720. Since I had already paid the hospital I called and disputed. The lady said ok, and she would pass it on to her supervisor. Now, another few years later I am receiving a letter from a debt collection agency. I am sending a written dispute, but what am I supposed to do? I never even actually saw a doctor. The debt collector says that the bill is for the doctor whom I never saw's time and if there was even a nurse present then it is valid. I believe the timeline was summer 2008 for the hospital, 2009 for the first bill, and now 2011 for the debt collection.

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Dec 01, 2011
Is a bill over a year later legal?

Being in the emergency room for even for a short period of time can be very expensive because as soon as you step in the door you begin incurring expenses regardless of whether or not you actually see a doctor while you are there. For example in your case, a doctor may have reviewed the results of your blood work or some other test that was run while you were there. Also, sometimes bills for the services that you receive in a hospital can arrive in your mail box many months after the date of service.

If you are not sure you owe the money that you are being asked to pay, write the collector a letter stating that and asking for a written accounting of the $720.00. Make a copy of your letter for your file and send the original letter to the collector via certified mail with a return receipt requested. Hopefully, the collector's written response will clear things up and you will understand exactly what the $720 is for. If not ask for additional information. Put everything in writing

If you conclude that you do indeed owe the money but you cannot afford to pay it all right away, try to work out a payment plan with the collector or see if you can settle the debt for less than the full amount that you owe on it. If you are able to work out a payment plan or reach a settlement agreement, get the terms of the plan/settlement in writing before you pay any money on it. You should also go here to learn more about how to deal with unpaid medical debt medical debt collection.

If you do nothing about the debt, you risk being sued for the money eventually. So, it's in your best interest to try to resolve your problem as quickly as possible.

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