NewWorldMan, HouseHunter,Leafy and Brammy, thank you all. Thank you so very much! A few notes since my post:
HouseHunter, you were exactly right! There are statutes in place, in every state, that clearly state a Medicaid recipient or his/her representative (such as a parent) is not to be billed for covered services, nor are collections to be imposed upon them. In Florida it's Title XXX , Chapter 409, Section 907, paragraph 3, subsection (j) with a pertinent clause in Section 905 (6). I hope I cited it correctly enough. It's been a long time since I've had to do that! You're the best!
NewWorldMan and Brammy, the battle isn't over yet! And who knows, I might just pay a visit to the State Attorney's office or contact the media, before this is all over, so that the same doesn't happen to someone else. I most certainly wouldn't want it to!
As it is, I did contact the hospital, and hold them blameless as they contracted with an outside source to perform their radiological services in their out patient department. This service provider (and can I name, names?) neglected to bill Medicaid (though they have performed the same service on my son, many times, and had his information). The hospital submitted their bill and was promptly paid. The OC and CA maintain it's too late to bill, and claim they can't pull this out of collections.
I have the feeling the collection agency is internal. So far they have refused to budge, and in spite of the fact that I paid the outstanding charge -- if only because my son did receive the service -- so indeed I have disputed it with Equifax, citing the law in my fax to them, as well as having faxed several medical documents proving that my son's medical procedures have always been covered by Medicaid. My question now is, can the CRAs remove this from my credit at their own choosing, or do they have to have the approval of the OC or CA? I might also add that in my last phone conversation with the CA I very kindly cited the law, so let's see if that changes their minds. Thank you both, so much, too!
Please, no one, give me heck for paying. As I said, my son received the services, and it was just the right thing to do. Kinda like paying a charge off regardless of the fact that doing so does little good. You know? Besides, I got heck enough from a wonderful woman at Medicaid Administration, who said to me, "You did what!"
And Leafy, what can I say to you? You're obviously a fighter and a survivor, and I commend you for that. You're in the right place -- this forum -- for whatever support you might need in the present and the future, dealing with unjust billing and collections practices. I don't know what I would do had I not found the forum and everyone it. I sure wouldn't be learning as much as I am, and becoming better equipped to protect and defend. I am living proof that indeed an old dog can learn new tricks! I wish you the very best, anyway, and hope you live a long, healthy and happy life from here on out.
Usually an internal medical collection would be more than willing to remove their mistake because they know the law of medicaid billing. I would let them know that I wanted my payment refunded as it was their billing error and the entry removed from my credit file. I would go on to say that I have documented proof that the insurance info was on file and that it would still be covered under Medicaid if they chose to file. I would then let them know that if this isn't corrected I would go to the FTC on their reporting practices. All in writing.
An OCA is less flexible because if it is sent back to the OC they lose their posrtion of the bill.
I'm glad you found the information that pertained to your state! I figured that most states followed the same general guidelines. If you get no where with the CB's, send a certified letter to the hospital reminding them that insurance cards and your DL were provided at the time of service. I forgot to read but did you originally state that he had services performed there before? If so, then remind them of that and that his correct insurance has always been on file there. Cite the law that forbids patients and/or their parents to be billed or any adverse action taken against their credit report, and then demand on that basis that it be removed from your credit report since it is in total disregard of the law.
I think this will be an easy one for you to get taken care of, whether it's timely or not I can't really say. Most hospital billing departments (depending on the size of the hospital) is almost as bad as the government with all of the channels you have to go through.
You probably need to also make sure that you don't have any other charges out there for the physicians for that hospital visit. For those who don't know, anytime you have a hospital or ER visit there are both hospital AND physician charges. Normally the billing is handled by two completely different billing groups who will also use different internal and outside CA's.
I hope you get it all taken care of really soon. With the law on your side, it may expedite it a bit.
Message Edited by HouseHunter on 04-28-200703:27 PM
Brammy and Househunter, thank you, again! Maybe the two of you should start your own forum? You're a wealth of information! Anyway, the administrator of the Medicaid office, here, is sending me a letter to submit to the CA, asking for a refund of the monies paid, as the services rendered were covered by Medicaid, and Medicaid is still willing to pay. The problem is, I guess, the CA purchased the debt and it's been purged from the OC, or so they tell me, so they aren't able to retrieve it, or remove it from the CRAs as a collection. I wonder how much they sold the debt for? I wonder how much the CA paid? Is their refusal to remove it from my credit punishment for the money they had to have lost, having paid for a $119 alleged debt, but only having been paid $13?
As you, Househunter, know, medicaid pays a pittance (but makes up for it in all of that govt. funding, I suppose). The original bills totaled $119. I ended up paying the medicaid rate of $13. Imagine that, ruined credit for a measley $13 charge off. And doesn't it seem an admission of guilt, or at least some knowledge of the law, on their part, that they reduced the debt to the medicaid rate? I wonder how Equifax is going to deal with that -- when the reduced amount shows in the update. With all I sent them, they should pick up on it.
Were I a sue-happy person, and for the sole purpose of this not happening to anyone else, I would most certainly consider it. I have made my list of those who will receive a complaint whether or not this comes off my report, as I know the damage it's done, and wouldn't want it to happen to anyone else. I live in dread of my few creditors cutting my limits, raising my interest and making it impossible for me to pay all of those out of pocket expenses for Stephen. Medicaid doesn't pay for everything, like Neuro-behavioral that goes onto my BOA at $125 an hour! I couldn't afford it if I couldn't charge it.
I'm sorry to be so rambling and winded, if you will. Just venting, and learning, and as are we all ... waiting.
I really hope this serves as a lesson to this particular hospital to make sure they don't list a person as a "self-pay" without first verifying that absolutely no insurance exists. I am actually shocked that they didn't contact you - at least on the back end - to see if you qualified for any other assistance program since getting pennies on the dollar is better than potentially getting nothing at all (from an average patient - not you in particular).
As for being "sue happy", there's a huge difference for fighting for your rights and your lost time and aggravation versus suing simply for the sake of suing which has become the norm these days. See, they're refusing to remove it even though it was a Mcaid eligible visit could be their punishment for being ignorant with regard to the law. I'm not advising you one way or another and I've never sued anyone in my life but if it were me, I'd do it simply based on principle. They think they can just do anything they want and think that the consumer is stupid which isn't cool.
Since you have shown obvious concern (and know your stuff) with Mcaid, they may take care of it for you and this facility may get some sort of fine or warning.
Keep us posted as to what the CA does after you send your letter to them.
My dear, Househunter. O but how much more I know about medicaid now that I know you! I'd have had no idea of such a law regarding billing and payment. I can't thank you enough. As for suing, it would have to be for like $1, just to make a point, inasmuch as it is that my son's SSI, through which he receives Medicaid, won't permit any real monetary gain, lest his medical coverage -- which is most neccessary to sustain his life, with all of his heart and developmental problems, would become jeopardized. If I make $10 more a month, say, a percentage of it comes off his benefits. But you probably know how that works, too, huh?
My daughter works so hard, and is a full time, 3rd year, student (elementary education) as well, at a local university. She's on the Dean's List. She's been working for this one establishment for 4 years now, and complains she needs a raise, and well she deserves one, but I have to continually tell her that if she makes too much money she'll have to move out, which she couldn't afford, so Stephen's benefits won't be cut to shreds.
As I said, I put his added expenses onto my BOA and another card I have, First Premier, and when his check comes I pay as much as I can, and always much more than the minimum.. I've managed to stay beneath the credit limit, but just barely, at times. Credit scoring doesn't take such things into consideration, you know? That much I've learned. It doesn't always matter that you've not paid one single bill late in more than 3 years. One collection, balance increase, or old creditor updating can knock the tar out of you, real quick. I've been four years paying off old debt that accumulated after Stephen's birth, staying current, in spite of a number of hurricanes, and hoping to rise above the mid 600s. Do you suppose I will, ever? It seems so hopeless at times. But then, I've never been one to give up hope, and so I'll just keep on keeping on, hoping and praying, while at the same time waiting for Monday when I can call an old law professor of mine and ask him if he'd be so kind as to help me file a suit for $1.
You have a really good day, Househunter... and by the way, are you house hunting?
I really do feel for people in your situation who can't get ahead because the system won't let them. On the one hand you want to provide well for your children and for them to succeed but you can't do what you so desperately want because you will lose what you so desperately need. It's a system that definitely needs to be fixed.
It used to break my heart (when I worked in that area of the hospital) when I had to tell someone that they didn't qualify for the hospital assistance program because they were $20 or $30 over the limit for assistance. Mind you, the limit was well under $10k yearly gross income for a single person. You tell me how someone is going to afford to live and buy a health insurance policy and pay premiums, deductibles & co-insurance on that yearly income???? They couldn't so that's why they were talking to me! Some of these people were so very sick. It made me angry that they couldn't get assistance.
My Mom went through a similar situation where she was very sick and now her good credit is destroyed. She had a heart attack about 3 years ago and went on Cobra insurance through her company. She briefly went back to work, then had another heart attack. She couldn't work for awhile due to her heart surgery. While still on Cobra and not working, her company shut their doors so she was out of a job. Just a couple of months before her Cobra ran out, she found out that she had cancer and went through extensive treatment and was ultimately okay. However, now what seems like a gazillion CO's are sitting on her CR's. She didn't qualify for a single program out there because her previous year's income (what they base qualification on - like how's last year's income going to help someone) far exceeded the minimum required. She finally got Medicare but it only pays 80% and she doesn't qualify for Medicaid as a supplement because she has two cars in her name, one of which is older than dirt and doesn't even work - it hasn't been driven in 3 years! She should tell one of the CA's they can put a lien on it and take it! With her current income there is no way she can pay all of these so I am going to have to help her which I don't mind but she has nothing now and deserves assistance.
Yes, I am (or should say will be) house hunting very soon. I need my scores to be as high as possible to get the best interest rates. I got into some trouble with two little piddly CC's about 7-8 years ago and thought my credit was ruined for 7 years. If only I would have found this site way back then! Right now my scores sit at 650-675 so I have a little way to go but I'm confident that I can do it - maybe not in the time I want it done - and I'm sure that you can too. Just keep up the hard work!
Househunter, it's been awhile, I know. I've been busy writing letters and making phone calls to the likes of the FTC and Attorney General. et al., prior to filing suit, if it comes to that. Let's hope not... but enough of that. It's of little importance, comparitively speaking. My heart goes out, now, to your mother. I am so grateful she beat the cancer, but now how to deal with the debt, right? That's a tough one. I know. It's taken me four years to dig us out of the hole, while at the same time making sure we don't acquire so much that Stephen will lose his benefits. It's like trying to balance a see-saw on a continuing basis. One tip of the scales, in either direction, can cost dearly. My hopes are with her, and you. She's blessed to have such a daughter as you, to help her through this. I'm sure she knows that.
As for your househunting, smile. Your scores are good. I don't know what percentage rate you're hoping for, but with a bit less (15-20 points) than yours I recently qualified for a fixed 6, on a re-fi. I had to do some shopping, of course, but if you get your scores up around 700 or so, it will be a whole lot easier for you. I hope you get all that you're hoping for, HouseHunter, and I wish you and your family well.
This is an awful story! I'm so sorry to hear what happened to you.
Not that I have researched it, but seems to me that you could probably sue for declaratory and injunctive relief (just to get the debt removed from your credit report, since it was an illegal debt to begin with), and seek attorneys' fees, if you are not interested in pursing monetary damages.
Re: Anyone? Medical collections...HouseHunter? Brammy? NewWorldMan, too.
Thanks, Hannasmum -- and are you British? Upon learning that the Collection Agency is indeed internal (an incorporated entity within the incorporated medical service provider) I will be speaking with an attorney, tomorrow. At this point, not only having been given the run around, and told that it will take two more weeks before the "supervisor" of the collection agency will get back to me with her decision regarding removing the collection from the CRAs, and having been outright lied to by both the medical service provider and their collection agency -- which is again a separate but enjoined and incorporated entity (talk about conflict of interest here, huh?) I am quite angry! And O please, please, can I use names? Can I? Huh?
ARGH! I learned of this co-relationship just this morning. When I couldn't find anything, on the net, concerning this particular collection agency, I did a corporate search, and BINGO! Such and such collection agency Inc.is also North Broward such and such Inc, the medical service provider! I had specifically asked what their afflitation was and was told they weren't affiliated... HA! They have the same address. The same suite number. The same CEOs and VPs and everything and everyone else! The phone numbers are one digit off. That's the only difference between them. This all means, of course, that when the service provider admitted to erroneous billing, this matter could have been cleared up, in a heart beat, with the removal of these collections from the CRAs. Instead I accepted their apology, paid the medicaid rate for the services rendered to my child, just because it seemed the right thing to do, and took the matter up with the CA, as the OC said it had been purged from their system and there was nothing they could do. Exactly what did she mean by purged from their system? So and So took it down the hall and turned it over to such and such for collection? Also, I insisted they send me a copy of the original bill, and was told that they can't do that because they don't have one. I could scream! They are supposed to be sending me a copy of their ledger, on Monday, and just what will that tell me? Little more than their notes on all of my calls, I suppose.
I don't even care anymore whether they take this off my report or not. In time, that will repair itself. It's a matter of principle, now!
Okay, guys, tell me -- do I have just cause to pay a visit to the State Attorney's office? I don't want to wait for the FTC or the Atty. Gen. to get back to me. God only knows how long that will take.
Thanks for all of your help, and your patience through all of my ramblings.