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Has anyone had this happen to them? My mom received a collections notice stating she owes a skilled nursing facility somewhere around $2k. She stayed at this facility last year after a surgery and it was covered by Medicare at the time. Since then, she was released with no issues. She's gone on Medi-Cal and I have not seen a single bill from this facility since then.


Then suddenly this letter comes in yesterday. I looked up reviews for the collections agency and it seems legit but people have complained terrible service or debts still open despite payment. So I'm not sure if it's trustworthy.


Are these things spam? Are they to be ignored? I know Mom has no means to pay for this debt and we're not obligated to do so for her. So what's next?


I have enough on my plate managing my parents finances and health only to see this come through. I'm already suffering from so much anxiety and in my daily life, I already dread social confrontations. I'd hate to make phone calls on her behalf and get caught as the middle person and get harassed for payment. Just looking for advice.

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Izzo, do you have an update?
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JoAnn29 Thank you JoAnn29. Yes, that's what I plan to do. Medicare covered a portion of her stay and TriCare covered the rest when she was extended. My Dad, a veteran, is more aware of how the insurance works and is SURE she should be covered 100% and I'm positive I had clarification stating such from the NH case manager at the time.

 I'm digging through all of the statements now and will be in contact w/ the facility. Zero bills, if there is one, was sent to my parent's home. And I recall at discharge they told me everything was square. So we'll see where this goes!

Thanks everyone for the peace of mind. Off to fight another battle. Be well!
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You need to start with the nursing home. If there is a balance first thing I'd ask why a bill wasn't sent to Mom before it went to collections. If Mom was considered in rehab Medicare only covers 20 days fully. From 21 to 100 only half. Depends on what your suplimental picks up of the balance. My Mom still owed $150 a day.
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If you have received your EOB statement from Medicare and Tricare, it should tell you if you owe anything. If it says you owe nothing, then it might be time well spent contacting either or both of the insurance carriers and let discuss this with them.
What ever you do I would not pay the bill until I got clarification from the insurance carriers.
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Countrymouse, you gave me a laugh I needed. Truly, it is about cleaning up a nuisance.

OldSailor, I absolutely think that this is what's going on. I clearly remember my Mom being approved to be covered by Medicare/Tricare during her stay.

Anywhoooo.... you are all amazing and are giving me the strength and courage I need to get through this!
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CM, I happen to love Eine Kleine Nachtmusik - it calms me and energizes me. You're in great form today; your post is literally poetic.
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A few years ago our UMC was in financial stress and had hired an auditor to find money.
The auditor was sending out bills for every single dollar never collected, including those that had been paid by insurance according to their contractual arrangments as being paid in full. The bills scared many people and some paid it without contesting the bill.
This thing managed to hit the news and viewers were told not to pay the bills but to contact their insurance carrier.
This may be happening with this NH. If anything I would contact my insurance carrier and take notes.
Good luck.
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Ugh. Get yourself a jug of really nice coffee and a packet of McVitie's digestives, a reporter's notebook and a reliable pen. Gather together your paperwork. Go to the loo. Sit yourself down on a comfy chair and pick up the phone. Start at the NH and follow the yellow brick road, noting names, telephone numbers and reference numbers as you go.

You will eventually track down a nice, honest and industrious person who will know what this is all about and will help you get it sorted. Meanwhile, should you have moments during this terribly long morning when you cannot stand another two seconds of Eine Kleine Nachtmusik and you are beginning to lose the will to live, remind yourself that a) this is not your debt, and b) nothing terrible can happen to your mother because of it. It is merely a nuisance which you, as a conscientious and sensible person, are cleaning up.

And I agree - do not contact the Collections Agency yourself, you will merely confirm their data for them and you will never hear the last of them. Speak only to the people who hired them. And always introduce yourself by saying "I'm calling on behalf of Mrs Mother, your reference xxx" rather than giving your own name first.
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Talk to the NH billing office. If a bill went to collection, it must have originated there.
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I didn't know she has Tri-Care. I'm not that familiar with it, but it might cover what Medicare didn't.

Asking the NH also is a good plan.

One of the more irritating incidents was when Dad order something, we sent it back, yet it was turned over to a debt collector. I sent the 30 day letter, then the following year the whole process was started up again.

So I'm glad to help someone battle these annoying and aggressive people.
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Both of you, thank you! This is my first time experiencing something like this but I will definitely start by combing through the statements and respond within 30 days.

I originally intended to find proof that it was covered and talk to the NH facility directly. It HAS to be a mistake because I even have my email exchanges with the case manager stating everything was covered at the time.

My Mom has no idea about her policy and coverage, but my Dad insists Medicare/Tricare should have covered it 100%. She was not on Medi-Cal at the time, but she is now.

I'll dig around and get started. Thank you!
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1. Agree with Zam; check the Medicare statements from the time of her discharge through the current date to see what charges might be from the NH. If there are none, the debt collector might be targeting the wrong person.

2. If your mother has secondary or Medigap insurance, check those statements as well.

3. You can also call Medicare if you've filed their specific form of POA, or call with your mother and she can ask a few questions, then suggest they continue with you. I've done this before, or conferenced my father in when I call.

4. In the meantime, DO NOT CALL the debt collector. And don't take calls from them, including any calls w/o caller ID.

5. Keep the envelope in which the debt collection notice was sent. The notice should state that your mother has 30 days to challenge the debt; do that.

6. If you're not familiar with the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, google it, locate and read the FTC site, with statutory information. For legalese, it's fairly easy to understand.

7. Your mother would have 30 days from date of receipt of the debt collection notice to respond, in writing, to challenge or deny the debt as well as demand additional documentation alleging validity of the debt. See Sections 809(a) and (b).

If you have any trouble understanding portions of the statute, post again, with the specific statutory section.

8. If your mother doesn't deny the validity of the debt pursuant to those sections, the debt is assumed to be valid.

If all this stresses you, as it probably would for most people since debt collection notices can seem threatening, take a break and remember that these outfits use intimidation, fear, sometimes threats and other unsavory tactics to get what they want.

Although they don't admit it, the conversations in my experience are recorded, and edited. I made the mistake of challenging one which erroneously targeted my father, and even though I took copious notes on the conversation, their version was quite different from mine!

Was she getting Medi-Cal at the time she was in the NH?

As to this particular agency being trustworthy, in my experience that would be like manna from heaven. These agencies hire aggressive people who intimidate and harass.

They're not even polite when I tell them they have the wrong person. Just b/c I have a common last name doesn't mean I'm responsible for someone else's debt, but they often continue to harass me.

Again, please, please, whatever you do, do NOT talk with anyone from the agency by phone.
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See if you can all Medicare statements about related to this NH. It should state what Medicare paid and what your mom could be charged (called co-insurance). Many NH will billed for the part Medicare does not pay.
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