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Hospital Sent My Bill Paid by Credit Card to Collections

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Hello FWF Community,

I am hoping that you can provide me some advice on what to do here.  Is there anyone I can contact to get this fixed short of an attorney or suing them myself.

Short Version - The Hospital Sent My Bill Paid by Credit Card to Collections and I'm at a loss of what to do about it.  Does anyone have any advice on what actions I can take?

Long Version - The Hospital billed me in November 2016 for my copay of $1000.  I paid the bill online with my Chase credit card.  A few days later, I look at my online Chase account and I see that the Hospital billed me twice for the $1000.00  Hospital did not respond to phone calls or e-mails for over a week so I initiated a dispute with the credit card company.  Chase does a temporary chargeback.  Hospital finally gets back to me via e-mail and says they will refund the money.  I tell credit card company to drop the dispute and they tell me to wait for it to play out. 

Fast forward to January and Chase finishes their chargeback investigation and tells me that they have not accepted the chargeback because the merchant corrected the error.  Fast forward to late March, I get a bill from the hospital telling me I owe them money again because of chargeback.  I told them that Chase paid them their money and provided them with a copy of my statements along with the date of the chargeback reversal transaction as well as the Credit Card reference number of the chargeback reversal.  I also ask the hospital what their credit card receipt records show.  They ignore my question and my documentation and won't look at or tell me what their credit card processing systems say in terms of whether they received payment.  I also ask Chase to look into this.  

Chase gets back to me and two weeks ago I try to do a three way call with Chase and the Hospital and the hospital tells me that they need me to tell them the exact account number the money went into.  Chase says that will take some more time to research.  While I am waiting for Chase to get back to me, Hospital sends my account to a third party collections agency and I'm now concerned about my credit and the additional new mess I will need to clean up.  I am also livid at the hospital for sending the account to collections so quickly when they can see that we are trying to get this resolved.

My best guess as to what happened is that the chargeback reversal where Chase sent the funds back to the hospital was never credited to my hospital account.  And I can't get anyone at the hospital to bother to look into their credit card processing systems to see whether it was received.

Obviously, if the collections agency messs up, I'm going to go all CodeName47 on them, but what to do about the hospital and cleaning up the underlying payment, I'm at a loss of where to go from here.  The hospital will no longer talk to me; they told me the account is with collections when I last called.

Any advice is greatly appreciated.

 

Member Summary
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Small claims is viable. But you can't just serve willy-nilly. They have an agent for service of process, and you need to... (more)

highmktgoods (May. 26, 2017 @ 12:19p) |

You misread me. I agree, it shouldn't be a challenge and I never said the situation was fair, I was just giving advice o... (more)

gludlow (May. 26, 2017 @ 2:07p) |

Another idea. In your local area, do any of the TV stations have a Consumer Advocate that helps solve egregious billing ... (more)

phoebez (May. 27, 2017 @ 10:49a) |

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rated:
See if the hospital has a patient advocate who might be able to help get some resolution. If you can't get it resolved right away, send the collection folks a "dispute, please validate" letter to hold them off while you get it sorted with the hospital.

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IANAL, but based on my experience, file a grievance with the hospital. This requires a form to be filled out and sent to them (I think most do it online), and it serves as an official compliant to the hospital. They cannot ignore it and are required to respond to you in writing. They will have to investigate and provide an answer.

I'd do this in parallel with dealing with the collections agency (which you can probably research via credit boards and the like).

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Wow. Apparently you can't even pay your medical bills without getting sent to collections. What's next? In between you AOR cycles and not looking for a mortgage soon? (or maybe moreso if you ARE)...sounds like a great hot deal to me! I've no idea if it matters, but billing you in general is part of their agreement with insurers as well assuming insurance was part of the process and it was in-network. I'd complain to your insurance company/board/regulator, the BBB, and as many other places you can think of. It may not be the fault of the insurance, but they should know if a provider isn't billing their insureds properly to the tune of demanding double payment on the exact same bill.

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File a grievance with your state Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. This will get their attention very quickly. To find the name of the agency, I googled health care grievance with my state name and gov.

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Thanks for the suggestions. I will try them all out and let you know how it goes. I'm also wondering if there is someway to complain directly through Visa. Seems like they might care that one of their merchants accepted payment through them but is still billing for services.

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Thrifty, the collection agency screwed up if they contacted you and alleged you owed anything. If the bill is paid, alleging a debt owed is a false or misleading representation that violates the Fdcpa. If they report it on your credit, it is a double le screw up. I'd do a simple dispute, please validate and if they don't see the mistake, find a Fdcpa atty and sue them. They'll figure it out when the summons arrives.

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Yeah. Especially if the first charge stuck and you only disputed the duplicate.

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ThiftySpender said:   The Hospital billed me in November 2016 for my copay of $1000.  I paid the bill online with my Chase credit card.  A few days later, I look at my online Chase account and I see that the Hospital billed me twice for the $1000.00  Hospital did not respond to phone calls or e-mails for over a week so I initiated a dispute with the credit card company. 
 

  Why didn't you just walk to the cashier window and ask what happened?

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atikovi said:   
ThiftySpender said:   The Hospital billed me in November 2016 for my copay of $1000.  I paid the bill online with my Chase credit card.  A few days later, I look at my online Chase account and I see that the Hospital billed me twice for the $1000.00  Hospital did not respond to phone calls or e-mails for over a week so I initiated a dispute with the credit card company. 
  Why didn't you just walk to the cashier window and ask what happened?

  This. Not to fault the OP- but it almost always works out better when you just appear in person and confront them, rather than emailing or calling a generic contact point.

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TravelerMSY said:   
atikovi said:   
ThiftySpender said:   The Hospital billed me in November 2016 for my copay of $1000.  I paid the bill online with my Chase credit card.  A few days later, I look at my online Chase account and I see that the Hospital billed me twice for the $1000.00  Hospital did not respond to phone calls or e-mails for over a week so I initiated a dispute with the credit card company. 
  Why didn't you just walk to the cashier window and ask what happened?

  This. Not to fault the OP- but it almost always works out better when you just appear in person and confront them, rather than emailing or calling a generic contact point.

  If he knew he was going to have to go in person and "argue", I'm sure he would've told them he had 800 left on his card to pay in full and be done with it....

rated:
This line of "why didn't you do X instead" isn't all that helpful.

I agree that hindsight is 20/20 and had I known that they were unable or unwilling to read their account statements or double bill the credit card, I would have done a lot of things differently. I'm not sure exactly how it works at other hospitals, but for me, I didn't get a bill that I paid at a Cashier on the way out. I was not given a bill for several months until after the visit and it was sent in the mail after insurance paid their share.

For what it is worth, the billing/accounting department for the hospital is located about 2 hours away from the hospital. They apparently have a centralized accounting department because they either own or do the billing for several hospitals in the area.

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First, get your documentation in order, 1) original invoice from hospital showing $1,000 copay, 2) copies of all credit card statements showing the dobule charge, credits, etc (everything related to this charge), outline the timeline of events and charges/credits, showing a final balance of $0.00.

Provide this to the collections agency and hand deliver to the hospital, and try to speak with someone who can do something for you.  

I could be wrong, but I don't see the need to provide any information regarding what hospital account your credit card company paid.  It is the hospital's responsability to keep their records straight, not your responsibility.  It is only your responsibility to make sure you pay the bill, which you did.
 

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ThiftySpender said:   For what it is worth, the billing/accounting department for the hospital is located about 2 hours away from the hospital. They apparently have a centralized accounting department because they either own or do the billing for several hospitals in the area.
 

  
Then why don't you go there in person? More than likely, finding and talking to a human will sort this out. Just bring your documentation, explain that happened, and more than likely someone in their accounts receivable department can assist you.

That would be easier than trying to fight it out through collections.

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If I get red, so be it. But I'm not willing to do that.

Their incompetence so far along with their unwillingness to talk to me anymore over the phone because they no longer have the account does not lead me to believe a 4 hour drive to their office now (and taking a day off work) - which is probably just a back office that does not accept visitors, is going to change anything from the hospital's perspective. It's the same people whether I try that talk to them on the phone or email or try to visit in person. I don't see how handing them the same documents again that I already gave them changes their mind.

rated:
I know you are angry at the hospital, but it doesn't sounds like you are approaching this rationally and trying to work it out. It may sound like a lot of fun to sue the hospital out of spite, but it won't be. More than likely, you'll lose more money and time on that than it's worth.

People who are upset make bad decisions, I'd recommend taking a step back, relax, and consider your options more carefully. It may take a day off work and persistence to find the right person, but making the right human connection can work wonders.

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gludlow said:   I know you are angry at the hospital, but it doesn't sounds like you are approaching this rationally and trying to work it out. It may sound like a lot of fun to sue the hospital out of spite, but it won't be. More than likely, you'll lose more money and time on that than it's worth.

People who are upset make bad decisions, I'd recommend taking a step back, relax, and consider your options more carefully. It may take a day off work and persistence to find the right person, but making the right human connection can work wonders.

  
There is a very HUGE problem with your bolded/underlined statement here. When it comes to debt and wanting to do the correct, legal, and ethical action it shouldn't be a challenge. It shouldn't require calling 50 numbers, gathering documentation, etc... Furthermore, there shouldn't be an ability on the billing side to do a trump card of "I'm not listening to you, but I'm still going to report you to credit agencies so they can run your credit in the mud and send collectors annoying you lol"

You really need to get your head on straight if that's really what you believe.

rated:
I thought medical collection can no longer affect your personal credit, no? Rather than spending tons of time and energy on this, I would just do what's legal and minimal work for me: Ask collection company to validate debt, file complaints to any and all places I could, sit back and let the hospital sweat. Looks like there is no longer any need to involve Chase further.

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ahcool said:   I thought medical collection can no longer affect your personal credit, no?
  
In that case why should I pay any of my medical bills?

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Because they can still sue you for the debt and collect via asset seizure or wage garnishment.

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The solution to this problem is simple. It is called small claims court. You would be amazed how quickly someone with enough authority addresses the issue as soon as the dickheads are served.  For real fun, make sure to serve someone *at* the hospital.

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EvilCapitalist said:   The solution to this problem is simple. It is called small claims court. You would be amazed how quickly someone with enough authority addresses the issue as soon as the dickheads are served.  For real fun, make sure to serve someone *at* the hospital.
  Small claims is viable. But you can't just serve willy-nilly. They have an agent for service of process, and you need to properly follow the rules for service.

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justignoredem said:   When it comes to debt and wanting to do the correct, legal, and ethical action it shouldn't be a challenge. It shouldn't require calling 50 numbers, gathering documentation, etc... Furthermore, there shouldn't be an ability on the billing side to do a trump card of "I'm not listening to you, but I'm still going to report you to credit agencies so they can run your credit in the mud and send collectors annoying you lol"
 

  
You misread me. I agree, it shouldn't be a challenge and I never said the situation was fair, I was just giving advice on your easiest path forward. Sometimes, you get the short end of the stick and I believe that taking personal responsibility to fix it is the best course of action. And there is likely no legal remedy to make it fair, or punish the hospital, so if that is your driver you are going down a path with no chance of success.

It really seems you don't want to only fix the issue, you want "justice" also. There's nothing wrong with that, but don't get blinded to the fact that suing or taking some action against them because "it's not fair!" will cost you more money, more time, and in the end you most likely won't get the hospital to change their processes, so you won't make the world a better place.

This forum is about personal finance, and sometimes checking your ego is the best financial decision.

Keep us posted on progress!

rated:
Another idea. In your local area, do any of the TV stations have a Consumer Advocate that helps solve egregious billing problems?

Many companies will respond to a local TV Consumer Advocate if they know that their company will be featured in a negative story on TV.
It's amazing how fast some companies can fix a long-standing billing problem when contacted by a local TV station about a specific problem.

 

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