A friend from my gym has this problem:
Their age 19 son "Joe" became ill while at college. Joe is covered
as a dependent his mothers' group medical (HMO) policy.
A doctor ("Smith") that is an "HMO approved" doctor accepted the
sons medical card and rendered services. Dr. Smith also sent the
son to another doctor ("Jones") for special tests, but Jones was
not on the HMO list of approved doctors.
At the time of service, Dr. Jones office did not inform Joe that
the insurance from that HMO was not valid and that he would be
responsible for the expensive tests (and he was probably too
sick to make a rational, informed decision anyway).
Months later, Dr. Jones is sending bills to Joe wanting their
money, but Joe has no job (at the moment) and cannot pay right
Dr. Jones is now demanding that Joe's mother pay the bill,
the reason given is that Joes mother is the holder of the
insurance policy and are thus responsible for any unpaid medical
expenses not covered by the policy.
Joes parents live in another state and were not even present
during any of the doctor visits or tests and have not signed
anything with any of the doctors there. If they had been present they
would have ensured that only "approved" doctors would have performed
the services so as to be covered by the insurance.
Joes parents aren't rich and can make small payments towards the
bill, but Dr. Jones wants the total bill paid now, or in much larger
payments and if not satisfied Dr. Jones says they will ding the credit
ratings of Joes mother for non-payment.
Question 1: Is Joes mother fully responsible for the unpaid medical
Question 2: Does Dr. Jones have a legal right to zap the credit history
of Joes mother?