My medical bill got sent to collections after I paid it. What should I do?
You can dispute medical bills sent to collections
If a paid medical bill goes to collections, you have options to fix the problem.
We all require medical services now and then. Receiving the services and paying the bills typically closes the book on the matter. However, there are instances where debt collectors come calling even after you’ve paid your bill.
What do you do in this situation?
This post lays down steps you can take if a medical bill gets sent to collections after you pay it.
Steps to take after a medical bill you paid gets sent to collections
1. Act quickly
Once a debt collector contacts you concerning a medical bill that you know you’ve already paid, waste no time. Reach out to both the health care company and the debt collector.
You should be quick with your actions because your rights under the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act are best exercised within 30 days of initial communication from the debt collector. This initial communication could come in the form of a letter, a phone call, or a court summons—it’s up to the debt collector to choose.
Once you receive the communication and realize that you don’t owe the bill, you must:
- Send a letter to the debt collector asking for verification of the debt, the name of the original creditor, and the amount of the debt.
- Be sure to use certified mail and request a return receipt.
- Attach any copies of documentation that supports your claim.
You need to get on this right away because the debt collector is obligated to respond by sending you the requested details via mail, which can eat up days in transit alone. Otherwise, they must put an end to any attempt to recover the debt.
2. Act on the debt collector’s response
In a situation where the debt collector ascertains that the bill was erroneously sent to collections, they are obligated to notify credit reporting agencies of the error. This will allow the agencies to correct the error if it has already been reported, thereby saving your credit score from taking a dive.
Just to be sure, feel free to check in with a credit bureau to ensure that this was done.
However, if the debt collector claims that you do in fact still owe the bill, your next option is to contact the health care provider directly to resolve the issue. In your conversation with the health care provider, bring up some policies that help sort out payment and collections issues. These policies could include patient-friendly billing principles and the medical account resolution’s best practices.
Where these measures prove abortive, provide a consumer statement to explain why it would be an error to add the medical bill to your credit report. The statement will then be forwarded to:
- The relevant credit reporting bureaus
- Your state’s attorney general’s office
- The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
If the bill is included as a debt in your credit report, dispute the credit reporting error. Credit reporting errors are almost always resolved within a reasonable timeframe.
If you ever have any questions about the process, contact us. We’ll be happy to take the burden off your shoulders.