Jump to content

My turn for support


MightyMouse
 Share

Recommended Posts

:( Okay, I just need to vent for a minute. The hospital that took care of me for my 2nd spinal surgery (emergency b/c my bone graft broke into little bits) is hounding me for money, despite the fact that I send $$ every month in whatever amount I can afford. What an upsetting call...they've set my file to their attorney for a decision regarding taking me to court for the $$. They even asked me if I had any family who'd be willing to pay the thousands of dollars I still owe. Giant sigh. I hate crying on strangers but this woman got me so upset I was barely able to speak on the phone at all. Finally, they set me up on a payment plan that's more affordable (not exactly affordable, but not 1000$ a month either... :) ) I keep trying to remind myself of my own words last year: my health and ability to stay mobile (or in the case of my broken neck, alive! :o ) is priceless.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat...

Okay. Rant off. All that crying has made me completely exhausted. So much for getting rest while home sick from work today. :(

Nina (regaining my composure...)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wow, do I ever sympathize and understand how you are feeling right now. I had services rendered at Mayo Clinic after I was diagnosed with POTS about 2 years ago. At the time, I had two insurance companies, both of which Mayo provided for, so I assumed I would owe very little, if any, money. I went through three months of doctors appointments & awful tests, just to be told by their "expert" that yes I do have POTS and they sent me back home to my doctor who diagnosed me in the first place to be treated by him. They were no help at all.

As months went by, I began receiving calls from Mayo saying that my insurance wasn't paying- but the insurance companies said they were paying. No one could tell me what in the world was going on. This past summer, Mayo called me to say they were sending me to collections, and after umpteen more calls I found out that the insurance DID pay and the balance was mine- thousands of dollars. I was absolutely irate!!!

They wanted me to pay hundreds of dollars each month, and I told the lady we can't even pay our bills because I am not working because of the same medical problem that you guys couldn't help me with!! And I have a child to support!! So now I am paying a good faith payment of $50 per month for 3 months, and who knows what will happen when that time is up. I wrote them a letter and CC'd to my lawyer. It is so unfair.

So I just wanted to sympathize with your vent = ) And you're right, our health is priceless, each day of it. I hope you get things worked out, but you can vent here anytime, someone will always listen!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As someone who does healthcare collections for a living, ask them if you can fill out a financial hardhship form. This is a relatively standard form that shows your income, and all your expenses. Many times they also ask for a copy of your tax returns to verify the information provided, and run a credit check. Also, check out your rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices law. There are certain things that they can and cannot do.

To be fair to them, if they don't make an attempt to collect from you your co-pays, deductibles, etc., the insurance carrier can make them repay any monies paid on your behalf. If it's any type of governemnt payer, Medicare, Mediciad, Champus, then they can be fined and in some cases jailed.

We deal in large balance accounts and our clients routinely put people on payment plans, or even waive balances when it is proven that the patient is unable to pay.

Good luck to you both. I got into a fight with my MD's office's billing service over $5 just because I knew they were wrong and I was right! In the end, they wrote it off.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks guys.

I did fill out paperwork to see if I could get assistance or some forgiveness. I was offered a 20% discount on the bill, but that still left more than 8000$ outstanding. I never did get a response from my paperwork that I submitted. My tax paperwork showed that I only had disability income for most of the year...and I earned a little bit when I worked for a few weeks before the bone graft collapsed. The paperwork and a letter from my employer clearly showed that my income was way less than the total amount of the bill.

I'm sure they've done a credit check already--and I have GREAT credit because I always pay ontime...even if I can't pay off the balances. I am, however, at the top of my credit limit and made it clear to the agent that I couldn't pay with the cards because I didn't have that much available $$ available from any of my cards...and besides, it would be robbing Peter to pay Paul...back in the same boat but witha different captain...you get the picture.

I HAD been making good faith payments every single time a bill came in...but they told me it wasn't enough. Basically, I pay off my regular monthy expenses (food, health insurance, car payment so I can continue to work, mortgage), and then I divide up the rest between the medical folks I owe $$ to--all are a result of the surgery--this includes radiology, anesthesia, the hospital itself, etc. The only one who dropped all my outstanding charges was the surgeon (bless his soul!).

I'm calmer now. :( Just bummed...and still peeved with my former health insurer who failed to cover most of the surgical costs. Also, it wasn't like I could go to an in-network provider to fix everything--no other doc would touch me because they said my failed graft was "another doctor's liability." :) So, I went back to the original surgeon because all his peers were too afraid of being sued by me if things went badly.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You guys are great---thanks! ;) I'm still feeling sickly with some yucky stomach bug, but I'm trying hard not to worry about the money.

Nina

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Nina, I too have had and still do have some outstanding bills from my husband being in the hospital. Now, as far as I know - they can't "sue" you for your outstanding hospital bills. I had been told about this from one of my co-workers. I too had a person from the hospital call me. ;) I have been paying only $25.00 a month (believe me that is a stretch right now) towards our outstanding bill. The "collection" person called to tell me that they might put me into an outside collection agency if I didn't pay the bill or sign paper work with an outside company that works with them so that they could get all of their money now. :( I told her that I would not sign that paper work because then I would have to pay 12% interest. I know that I have rights. The first is that if I make a payment towards my debt, no matter how great or small they cannot put me into collections! :P (I work in accounting - trust me on that one :D ) My manager where I work now told me that she used to be a manger in the "collection" department at a hospital. She said that she would instruct her "people" to call & do what ever means necessary to get the bill paid. This did and does include scare tactics. She said that some people could be made through intimidation to pay the bill. For those that do not have the means or the ability, it doesn't change what you can get from them, but for some - it works. Now here's the big info....as long as you are paying them something...anything...they can't do anything to you. She also told me that in order for an outside collection agency to even take on that job, the hospital had to prove that they had been trying to collect on the debt and that they had been unsuccessful in a response or payment arrangements. She said that she had a very fine line that she had to walk, but if they were receiving monthly payments of any amount on the bill, there was NOTHING she could do. Trust me when I tell you this is a game.

I wish that there was more I could tell you about specific laws or statutes, but it's something that you might be able to "Google". The main thing that I wanted to tell you was to not let them intimidate you. To let you know the "ending" if you will to my story, my "intimidator" called about 3 months ago. I had been paying on the bill for 4 months prior to the call. I told her that this is all I could do. I know my rights & I knew that as long as I paid towards my bill that there was nothing that they could do. If they felt like trying, they would then be speaking to my lawyer. I thanked her for the courtesy call and asked if there was anything else I could do for her. She said no & that I should please just try to understand she was just doing what she was told. I told her I know, but just to please understand that she should never call me again regarding this matter. I haven't heard anything since & they're still cashing my checks I send every month. ;)

It's sad, but this is about intimidation. They are out to satisfy their accounts receivable. As long as you know yourself that there is nothing they can do to you, trust me it will put your mind at ease. Now, I don't know if it is different in the state you live in. I live in Florida. But I'm almost positive that this is somthing across the US. Good luck and let me know if I can give you any additional info.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I just wanted to say that when Mayo Clinic was harassing me about my debts, I wrote them a letter explaining my whole situation, copied it to my attorney, and today I received a courtesy call from Mayo stating that continuing to pay $50 per month was fine until the balance is paid off. It's funny how as soon as you stand up for yourself, and you show them that you know your rights and use that to your advantage, they will leave you alone.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I remember one of the same company's collectors telling me that they couldn't do anything to me if I just kept paying something every month. Didn't stop them from playing hardball with me the other day, but I think I'm just going to keep doing what I have been doing: divide up what's left at the end of the month and give each provider their portion. ;) best I can do!

Thanks again for all the kind words here--it perked me up lots. Michelle, if you're reading this, I was kind of cracking myself up because I'm the DINET Support Leader. ;) oy! Okay, even a "Susie Sunshine" like me has a bad day once in a while.

Nina :P

Link to comment
Share on other sites

i guess this is one of the things i should be grateful about...seeing as how i live in canada, the only thing i ever have to pay for are ambulance rides...well, i do owe some $$$ for those, but not too much...everything else is covered (including tests, procedures and surgeries), except for drugs usually. but since i'm on social assistance, my drugs are paid for now (as long as they're pharmaceuticals...heh). unfortunately my doc is a naturopath, so he's only 1/3 covered by the provincial health coverage. that's my major expense. most of what he prescribes isn't covered...ironically, all the specialists are free.

the downside is that there's very few resources available here (in terms of POTS, i mean) and the waiting lists are super long to see any specialist. actually, for gp's the waiting lists are super long, too...

it seems from reading the posts from those who live stateside, that you've all managed to get much better treatment...but expensive.

so, yeah. sorry to hear about your staggering med bills, nina. that really *****. ;)

one can only hope they'll get off your back eventually.

good luck.

justin

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am really sorry to hear about this financial cycle.

We feel crummy, we go see a doctor and tell them that stress knocks us out for days, weeks, or months.

They put us through all sorts of tests.

They send us home with no diagnosis or treatment, and then they start calling us and telling us they will take our house away if we don't pay them ;).

I was recently 'invited' by a well known businessman to travel to Texas to get 13 days worth of testing performed by his 'personal' team of doctors. They basically told me to go home, stop taking my medications, and get a job.

A couple of weeks later, I received a bill for over $6,000, and I am lucky enough to have a great health insurance policy. I could have gotten more compassion and insight from the 'welcome guy' at the local Wal-Mart! Guess I'll start sending them $25 a month for the rest of my life...

-Dan

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I seriously doubt they will go to court over $8,000.00. Their lawyers would cost more than that to sue. Hospitals can write off losses on their taxes, so don't let them intimidate you. If a judge sees that you are making monthly payments it shows a pattern of good faith and there is no way he is going to allow a case to go to trial. It really really sounds like they hired an over zealous bill collector who has no idea what they are doing.

Moreover if the bone graft disintegrated, that in itself could be used in court against the hospital since their doctors obviously did not do a great job.

I have dealt with bill collectors in the past with my medical bills. Most of them lie. They will tell you that they can report you to a credit bureau. I had a hospital try to charge me $500 for a tetanus shot. I mean the shot itself, not the ER visit. I refused to pay it and sent them $25 which I felt was fair. The Collection agency told me they would report me and I told them that they would have a large lawsuit on their hands if they did. Needless to say nothing ever appeared on my record. The fact is, unless there is a sentence or two stating that in the documentation you signed, they can't. If they did, they would be liable.

Edited by Timbo
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks Tim. I'll just continue to write my checks for what I can afford. I agreed to 150$ this month, but after that, I'm going to keep going with my "divide and conquer" payments.

Actually, I had a lawyer who offered to help me with a case about the disintegrated graft...he eventually dropped my case saying that he didn't think he could make money on it. Grr. ;) Okay, there are some good lawyers out there, but I've not met any yet.

Nina

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Nina, Nina, Nina....now you and I both know that the best support people have "been there, done that" and can truly relate to others. You are great, and we all need support sometimes....even Susie Sunshine.

Dan, somehow I was under the impression that "the well known businessman" was helping with the payments. Sorry to here you have joined the "paying off the hospital for the rest of our lives" crowd. Maybe we should have just gone to Walmart instead? ;)

Hey, maybe Justin could post his address and we could all just move in with him. B) What do you say, Justin?

Michelle

Link to comment
Share on other sites

well, you'd have to move to toronto. some of you would find winter difficult, i'm sure....and like i said, the resources suck....

;)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I dunno Justin...I've been to Toronto and I love winter. ;) That, and it's only an hour from the Falls. Can't beat that!

Seriously though, I've heard from other Canadians that it's really hard to get to see a specialist in ANS problems; I think there are only one or two...I know of one who's in Montreal, but a friend told me it would be well over a year to get in, if at all. She's also had trouble getting to see a cardiologist.

Nothing like that reality check to remind me that maybe paying bills for eternity might not be as bad as it seems right now.

And, yes, Michelle, you're correct. I think it's always been hardest for me to cut myself a break--I'm better at doing that for others, but I'm learning. B) Nina

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wow! I live in Canada as well, so at least I can be grateful that I am not saddled with large bills or large monthly health insurance premiums. However, as Justin states...I do think those with access to private hospitals and doctors in the US, do fair better when it comes to getting diagnosis and treatment. Although our system is nearly completely publically funded (and we pleantly of taxes for that), there are increasingly long waiting periods to see specialists and finding a nw doctor is virtually impossible right now. This is why I'm stuck with the docotr I have, I'd get rid of her in a minute if I could! All the doctors here are very busy, and therefore the quality of care, and time taken to properly investigate symptoms, suffers badly.

Nina, sorry to hear you are having such a tough time...it really really *****! I'm sure your lawyer will handle it, but then you'll owe him a bunch of money. You may want to look into credit counselling, and let them deal with the collection agency for you. It's a lot less stressful. I hope things improve for you soon.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Nina,

I'm so sorry to hear that you had to go through such an upsetting phone call. Try not to let those collection people bother you. They are paid to be bullies and to intimidate people. You are doing the best you can---and that's all you can do.

I was in receivables for several years---and I got a lot farther if I treated people with respect and dignity. It was mostly commercial collections, but for about a year I did private. Payment arrangements are usually acceptable---as you have been doing all along. If a hospital/Doctor billing Dept. accepts the payments you have been sending them, you are not obligated to send more.

They are supposed to refuse the payment by sending it back to you---and then tell you what they expect you to pay. I sounds like they have been accepting what you have been sending.

I'll tell you one thing------The same hospital did my surgery----and after the insurance paid they wanted the balance ---RIGHT NOW! We ended up making payment agrrangements. But they monthly pmt was barely affordable.

You can only do what you can. Sometimes crediters will overlook delinquent medical bills seen on a credit report as well as school loans. We found this out when my son's credit was was being checked. The manager of our Credit Union told us this. I never did completely learn all the rules of the Fair Debt. Protection Act---so i'm not sure if they really have the right to threaten you with an attorney or not. Hang in there the best you can.

Julie :0)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...