Your doctor was a moron and you destroyed my credit. I hope your head explodes.

The timeline:

July 2002, my husband is hospitalized after an abnormal cardiac stress test. He has a cath done by one of the cardiologists at the hospital (his cardio doesn’t come to that hospital).

January 2003, we receive a notice that our account has been sent to collections. I notice that the address on the bill is completely bizarre. I call the doctor’s office and they say that they got the address from the hospital and that the hospital didn’t have any insurance info on file for us. I give them the insurance info and correct the address.

February 2003, notice from insurance company that bills are paid.

Late February 2003, notice from collection agency that we owe $1600. Called doctor’s office. They refuse to call of the collection agency, claiming that some bills are unpaid. Call insurance agency, they say all bills are paid. Called doctor’s office to say if bills are unpaid must be resubmitted. Sent letter to collection agency.

April 2003, notice from collection agency that we owe $1600. Called. They say bills are unpaid. Ask if they have been resubmitted. Sent letter to collection agency.

July 2003, call from collection agency saying we owe $1600. Asked if resubmitted. Was told that collection agent “is not my secretary.” This refrain repeated in response to all questions. Was told that my letters had not been received. Was told that this claim had been put on my credit record in December of 2002.

August 2003, boss puts insurance agent on trail.

August 7, 2003, insurance agent calls to say that all of the claims had been paid in February, as had previously been said.

Throughout this ordeal, I’ve been called a bitch, been hung up on, had dozens of phone calls, been called irresponsible for not knowing the bill was outstanding, called a liar for claiming I didn’t receive the bills, and screamed at when I said I was unimpressed with their efforts to contact me.

Now, my credit is in the toilet. I’ve gone from a 700-750 to a 500. My insurance bills have gone up (they are based on credit scoring).

I have no idea what legal recourse I have, but I want my mommy.


We had a similar problem with an anethesiologist that double-billed our insurance. Basically, if you have fulfilled your obligation to the insurance company (co-pay or deductible or whatever) you should be out of it. What we did was to send (and keep sending) letters to both the insurer and the collections agency stating that our obligations had been met with our $10 copay and that was it. I don’t know how it is with your insurance, but with ours any provider that deals with a hospital in our network has agreed to stay within their prices–they can’t decide to be more expensive later on. It took a few rounds of letters, but we finally got them to cut it out. The major point is, though, that it is your insurance companies job to dispute the bill, not yours. That’s why you have insurance.

My insurance company claimed there wasn’t a bill, or at least that there were no bills being disputed, and the doctor’s office completely refused to communicate with them. The refused to call, to write, to resubmit, or to do anything at all, claiming that it was my problem.


Contact the credit bureau with which the derogatory information has been placed and dispute the information, in writing. Keep a copy. The credit buraeu has 30 days to investigate and when it’s found that the account was placed in error it will be removed.

Then contact the insurance agency that bizarrely ties your premium to your credit rating. Advise them in writing that your credit report has been corrected and that you expect a retroactive adjustment to your premium based on the correction. Keep a copy for your records. Give them 30 days to do it, then contact them again using phrases like “appropriate legal action.”

That being said

No, you have insurance to pay for medical expenses in accordance with the terms of your policy. It is not the job of your insurance company to seek out bills that aren’t submitted or to contact your provider to advise them, beyond the initial explanation of payment, not to seek additional payment.

I’ve seen this same sort of situation happen time and again, and have been the victim of it, simply because of either crappy software or crappy data entry. I can’t say that this happened here, but often someone, somewhere, just types something in wrong (the “completely bizarre” address is a glaring clue).

I don’t know how knowing this would help in this case (if it’s true), but what drives me bonkers is the automatic assumption that it’s YOUR mistake, not the doctor’s office, even when you present proof that you’re not some low-life out to scam them. There’s something sacred about a statement coming from a machine: “No, you can’t be right, look, the computer says so right here.”

No, the computer can’t be wrong because, well . . . it’s a computer.

My wife and I fought a bill for 9 months because the doctor’s office manager refused to admit that, perhaps, their software was buggy (I develop software for a living). We kept getting billed every month, each time for some weird amount, even though neither of us ever visited the doctor in that time.



I feel better now, though.

Immediately contest the derogatory record on all credit reports that have it. You are entitled to contest a derogatory mark as many times as you wish. Every time you contest it, the credit bureau must, under the FCRA, investigate the claim. They will need to verify the claim with the collection agency. If the collection agency can’t verify it, the derogatory mark dissapears. If they do verify it, then you have a cause of action against them for a civil suit.

This spring we started to get calls from a collection agency about a doctor bill. Three fucking days before we got the FIRST bill for those services.

My wife answered the first one and was reduced to tears. The second time, I took the phone from her and reamed out the caller, telling them that we had not yet recieved a bill for those services and that they would not be calling us again.

They called the third time just as I was walking in from getting the mail. In my hand was the very first billing. I paid it that day, after giving the collections guy another ear full.

They claimed that they had sent us “statements” previous to that. Sure, they had. But they were clearly labeled “not a bill” and had no return payment slip. So how the fuck was that a bill and why the fuck was it sent to collections???


This is what really ticks me off. Why in the hell should my house insurance be related in any way to my credit rating? But that’s what my agent is saying, that it’s tied in and that he can’t do anything about it.




And thanks for everyone sharing stories. It makes me feel a little calmer.


Ah, yes, the old “statement” dodge.

Some insurers (like Medicaid) don’t allow their subscribers to be billed while a claim is still pending, so doctor’s offices send “statements”. This allows the people who can be billed to be billed, but keeps the caseworkers off everyone’s back.

The problem is that, for people like yourselves, there is no indication that you actually do owe the money, or if there is an indication, it’s written so cryptically that it’s hard to understand. If you pay it and you don’t owe it, your account is screwed up. If you don’t pay it, it goes to collections. But the doctor’s office isn’t going to tell you that you need to pay it unless you ask.

jsgoddess, do you have any kind of documentation from the insurance company that says these claims were paid, like an explanation of benefits? Sending a copy of this to the doctor’s office, with another copy sent to the collection agency might help.

You may also have administrative recourse through whatever state agency oversees collection agencies.


I sent a copy of the explanation of benefits along with the letters I sent to the collection agency. That paper showed what MMOH paid, what was originally charged, and what I owed ($0).

The collection agency claimed not to receive it, but when I explained what it was to them and to the doctor’s office, they said it wasn’t proof and that the insurance hadn’t paid everything and I still owed $1600.

What’s kind of funny is that my husband ended up in the same hospital with the same cardiologist’s office. (Different doctor, but same group.) That claim, they sent in and got paid for within two weeks.

This is what we get for living in the boondocks where his cardiologist doesn’t come to the hospital, I guess.


Try contacting the State Insurance Board, the people who license the insurance company. That’s what I did after a two-year fight with Blue Cross & Blue Shield, and the nice man at the State Board got it cleared up in two weeks.

I can sympathize with you JS, but when they call you again, just laugh at them (that is very therapeutic and it pisses them off even more). Let them know you’re taking care of the problem the best way you see fit and you have no inclination of following anyone else’s payment schedule, since your obligation was handled and that their reaction is unjustified due to a computer error which they have no mind or heart to rationalize that some people (such as yourself) do not actually belong on a collection list, and you also realize that some mindless, angry people in this world (such as said bill collector) needs a job too and let them know that they are doing such a great job! Laugh again…then hang up…:wally

It’s all about control, JS, and don’t let them control you or your emotions; you dictate the terms of the phone call…

I enjoyed every minute of controlling those harrassing phone calls…almost looked forward to them!

You are my hero.


jsgoddess, I had a similar problem, but it involved Worker’s Comp insurance (not) paying for x-rays and emergency room treatment. Collection agencies were calling me too. It was finally resolved when the head of my company called the various parties on the carpet.

What was the nicest thing was that I got a personal letter of apology from the Worker’s Comp folks, which said that anything negative resulting from this on my credit record was incorrect. I then was able to check my credit record and submit a copy of this letter to the agencies as necessary. It carried a bit more weight than me just writing a letter myself. Can you get something from your insurance company documenting that the bills were paid and that you called them to verify the issue, just to have similar back-up in one nice, concise letter?

Forgot to add, the cause of the trouble was miscoding the in the original case. Everyone acknowledged that it was miscoded, everyone acknowledged that there had been an error, yet they all acted as if they were powerless to stop the collection agency steam train a-comin’ down the track. So I understand your frustration.

Oh I have GOT to remember this. Do you mind if I print out these words of wisdom and use them for reference the next time one of those mindless boobs call me?:smiley:

Why yes you may…but I would not use it if you ACTUALLY owe on your bills; tends to make things worse if you do…

Send all correspondence certified mail, return receipt requested.

You are entitled to tell the collection agencies not to bother you by phone anymore, but that won’t stop the collection process.

Good luck…you will get through this. And if you are denied credit because of incorrect information on your credit report, you can sue them for big bucks.

When they call, ask them if they’ve found Jesus…

As for credit reports…collection agencies are pathetic when it comes to validating debts, so dispute any tradelines from collection companies.