As a debt collector, I talk to people everyday who say they don’t owe a bill for one reason or another. Sadly, a lot of times it is because they don’t understand how the service work or the terms of the agreements they have for the different areas that they can be charged for. Here are some of the most common ones that I hear and something that may help you avoid being placed in collections.
MY INSURANCE IS RESPONSIBLE
For those who have medical insurance and have the privilege of using our medical system, consumers say that they aren’t responsible for the bill because their insurance paid for it. Or that the doctor didn’t file the insurance.
Medical insurance is an agreement between you and your insurance company. Knowing whether or not your insurance is going to cover your procedure is your responsibility. It isn’t your doctors.
It also isn’t your doctor’s responsibility to file insurance. Yes, a lot of doctors and medical facilities do file as a courtesy, but it is ultimately your responsibility as a consumer to make sure that your insurance paid for their portion. If they haven’t, and you find yourself in collections, your best option is to pay the bill and then seek reimbursement from your insurance agency.
I DIDN’T HAVE A CONTRACT
Of course you didn’t. No one ever does. Electric companies, telephone companies, television companies, cell phone companies, they don’t have contract or agreements for services. Why would they?
Obviously they do, because if they did not enter into some sort of agreement for services with you, then you wouldn’t have those services. Just like every business, they need to protect themselves. Whether or not you read the agreement for services or ensured you understood the agreement of services is beyond their control. Ignorance is not an excuse. Ensure you know what you are getting into before you sign up for those services.
I NEVER RECEIVED A BILL
This by far has to be one of my favorites. You have been placed in collections and the reason for that is because you didn’t receive a bill. I’m not saying you’re lying by any stretch of the imagination. A lot of things can happen that may delay your bill or cause it so you don’t receive it. For all I know, your dog ate your bill (sounds like high school all over again.)
Ask yourself this question: Did you receive the services? If you answered yes, and you never received a bill, would you not be concerned? I know I would be. And I would be in contact with the service provider to find out why and try to resolve the matter. Not wait until I was contacted by a debt collector. While there are good Samaritans out there who will out of the goodness of their heart cover a bill, there is no magical payment fairy that is going to come and make your bill go away.
At the end of the day, as a consumer, you do need to protect yourself. And you do need to be an intelligent consumer. If you aren’t conscientious about what goes on in your life, then there are consequences that can be associated with it. Every company and agency you deal with has a customer service area set up to help you ask questions, and they are more than happy to help you resolve them to the best of their ability. They don’t know what questions you have unless you ask.
If you don’t understand your insurance or don’t think your medical bills are being filed, call someone and ask. If you don’t understand your agreement for services with one of your services providers, call them and ask them. If you haven’t received a bill, then call and ask why.
You may not necessarily always like the answer, but at least your questions get answered. But if you don’t put in the time to do so, then you may end up talking to me or one of my colleagues.