On March 8th, I received a letter from collections on a bill I had no idea of. I had all of my old bills and I found one from the biller for $13, and I had marked it paid (with proof from my bank). The collections agency showed I owed $243.
I sent a debt validation letter, certified mail, with a return receipt. The letter requested the following:
- An original bill or statement, from the doctor’s office, following HIPPA
- An agreement bearing my signature that shows I agreed to pay the debt
- An agreement with the doctor’s office showing they have the right to collect
- Any insurance claims associated with the charge
I stated #1 because I read that it is illegal for them to have my medical information except in cases that I give consent. Well, they replied with a letter that had my full name, social, the medical procedure done, and the insurance I had at the time.
My concerns are that they did not follow HIPPA laws nor did they include any documents showing I signed and agreed to my information being shared or agreement to debt. I did see that I did have that procedure done – however, I never received a bill for the procedure.
What course of action should I try next if my bill is sent to collections?
In essence, by asking them to provide you with the medical bill, you authorized them to retrieve the information.
If you know this is your bill, just pay it and be done.
Should you have gotten an original bill, yes, but do a little research and you’ll see plenty of people claiming they never received a bill. It’s probably legit sometimes, and the person’s own negligence others, but it doesn’t change the fact that you owe the money.
Finally, if you don’t want the collector to see or share this information with you, you could request the information directly from the healthcare provider. “Under HIPAA you may request your Hospital or Physician directly to provide you with that information and per HIPAA’s Privacy Rule they too must respond to you,” says Bender. But based on the information our readers shared, her opinion is that “It does not appear that either the collection agency or the hospital violated HIPAA.
“Indeed, the Department of Health and Human Services states on its website that it is “not aware of any conflict between the Privacy Rule and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Where a use or disclosure of protected health information is necessary for the covered entity to fulfill a legal duty, the Privacy Rule would permit such use or disclosure as required by law.”
Bender notes there may be state laws that relate to medical privacy and so consumers may also want to check with their state attorney general’s office or a consumer law attorney for more information.
Health care bills that go unpaid can seriously affect your credit scores — there are many ways to check your credit scores for free, including through Credit.com.