If you are being harassed by a debt collector to pay a bill that your insurance company should have paid, you may have found that simply telling the collector this did nothing to persuade them to stop their collection attempts. This is because it is not a debt collector's job to investigate insurance payments or question your healthcare provider about amounts it claims are past due. If your doctor or hospital has turned your account over to a collection agency when it shouldn't have, it is up to you to find out why your insurance company did not pay the bill and work with them and your healthcare provider to ensure that they do.
When a Debt Collector is Attempting to Collect on Medical Bills
A debt collection agency attempting to collect on a past due medical bill was hired by your healthcare provider to collect the past due amount for them. The agency receives just enough information from your doctor to know how to contact you and how much you owe. Its only job is to collect the amount past due for the doctor so that it can retain a percentage for its fee. Debt collectors simply accept their client's information as true; that you owe this amount and did not pay it. They know nothing about your medical treatment, insurance plan, or payments that should have been made by your insurance company. Not only do they know nothing about this, it would violate privacy laws for your insurance company or healthcare provider to discuss this with them. They also are only being paid to collect on the account, not to investigate any claims that the bill should have been paid by a third party. So, telling the debt collector your insurance should have paid will not stop collection attempts and you must then work with your insurance company and healthcare provider to ensure the bill is paid by the insurance, if in fact it should have been.
Stopping Collection Attempts for a Bill the Insurance Should Have Paid
If a debt collector is attempting to collect on a medical bill you believe your health insurance company should have paid, ask them to send you validation of the debt. Once you receive complete information about the debt from the collector, contact your insurance company to determine why the bill was not paid. You may have to talk to your healthcare provider and insurance company several times in order to get the bill paid or an explanation of why the insurance company is not responsible for paying it. If the debt collector continues to harass you after you have determined that the insurance company is responsible for paying the bill, mail them a letter telling them that you dispute the debt and want them to stop contacting you. You should also keep a copy of the letter for yourself, and mail one to the Federal Trade Commission at 6th and Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. 20850. Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), the debt collector may then only call or write one more time to let you know that they received your letter and will stop contacting you and advise you of any other action they intend to take, such as filing a lawsuit against you.
If you are being harassed by a debt collector for a medical bill that your insurance company is responsible for paying, please contact our office at 1-800-219-3577, for a free, no obligation case review.
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