Medical debt is common for all Tennessee residents. When medical debt collectors come calling, you need to know how to respond effectively to protect your rights, finances and reputation. The consumer protection attorneys at Fitzgerald & Campbell, APLC recommend these actions when medical debt collectors come calling this year.
Don’t Pay the Debt Immediately
Never assume the medical provider or debt collection agency has their facts straight; many times, they do not. While it may seem faster and more convenient to simply pay the debt quickly, you could be stuck with debt you do not owe. Even smaller debts should be properly vetted before being paid.
Investigate the Debt Claim
Get the facts about this alleged medical debt. Is it even yours? Are the amounts reasonable? Sometimes patients can receive bills for services they did not receive by mistake. $1000 charges for a blood test are not unheard of. And don’t assume that simply calling the debt collection company to let them know of the mistake will settle the matter. They are only interested in collecting the debt, not solving the problem.
- Is the name, address and other patient information on the claim yours?
- Did you actually receive the medical services detailed in the claim?
- Are the dates of service on the claim correct?
- Have you previously received notice from the provider that you owed a debt?
Verify the Debt has Been Submitted to Insurance
Insurance companies are notorious for taking too much time to pay for claims, especially when the paperwork isn’t correct. Resubmissions can take time when claims have been rejected, and your bill could have been mistakenly sent to collections because insurance hasn’t paid yet. Contact your insurance company about any medical debt collection notices you receive and determine if they have paid on the claim. Sometimes they have made payment, but for less than the provider is charging for a particular service. The provider may then be attempting to collect the remaining amount. In some cases, this is not allowed and you do not owe beyond what your insurance has paid.
Establish the Debt is Within the Statute of Limitations
How old is the debt? The statute of limitations for collecting medical debt in Tennessee is six years. Beyond that timeframe, there is little reason to pay anything. Knowingly filing a lawsuit outside this timeframe is a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and you may have legal recourse. A debt protection attorney from Fitzgerald & Campbell, APLC can share more.
File a Formal Dispute
If you dispute the debt for any of the above-mentioned reasons, or others, you should file a formal notice of dispute in writing with the medical debt collection company. This can be by certified letter via the U.S. Mail or by email. Keep copies of all your correspondence with the debt collection company. You have 30 days to file a dispute, after which the company will assume the debt is valid. When you file a dispute, carefully detail why the debt is not yours or other reasons for disputing the debt. Supply as much proof as possible. The debt collection company is required to stop attempting to collect the debt and respond to your dispute. They may also drop the claim.
Hire a TN Consumer Protection Attorney to Help with Medical Debt Collectors
A TN consumer protection attorney in Nashville from Fitzgerald & Campbell, APLC can offer more advice and answer your questions about medical debt collectors in a free consultation. They can also advise you if you have a legal right to pursue a claim against the collection company for violating your rights under the law, or other ways to contest medical debt. Contact us today at 615-845-4595 or send an online message to schedule a free consultation.