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Thread: Parent responsible for adult child medical bill?

  1. #1
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    Default Parent responsible for adult child medical bill?

    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
    now.

    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
    bill?

    Question 2: Does Dr. Jones have a legal right to zap the credit history
    of Joes mother?

    Thanks!


  2. #2
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    Apr 2004
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    Default Parent responsible for adult child medical bill?

    leeroth@my-deja.com wrote:
    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. 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. Question 1: Is Joes mother fully responsible for the unpaid medical bill?
    No. Legal "responsibility" for the bill requires that she (1) promise
    to pay it or (2) receive a tangible benefit from the services provided.
    Question 2: Does Dr. Jones have a legal right to zap the credit
    history
    of Joes mother?
    Not unless she is legally responsible for the bill.


  3. #3
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    Join Date
    Apr 2005
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    Default Parent responsible for adult child medical bill?

    >Question 1: Is Joes mother fully responsible for the unpaid medical
    bill?
    In most cases, the answer would be no. However, you really need to
    consult an attorney that (1) is experienced with health care law; and
    (2) can review the HMO's benefit plan and/or any contracts Joe's mother
    may have signed.

    If Joe's mom is the policy holder, her contract should have some
    language that might state if the policy is considered responsible for
    out-of-network charges incurred by a dependent, even if that person is
    any adult. There may also be a federal law that applies, but any
    attorney you retain can attonrey to do that research.

    Question 2: Does Dr. Jones have a legal right to zap the credit
    history
    of Joes mother?
    Probably not, but that would really depend on the answer to Question 1.


  4. #4
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    Feb 2005
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    Default Parent responsible for adult child medical bill?



    leeroth@my-deja.com wrote:
    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 now. 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.
    "Joe" is an adult. It seems unlikely that Joe's mother is responsible
    for his medical bills, unless she signed a form taking responsibility
    for them. You say she wasn't even present, so I doubt she owes anything
    to "Doctor Jones".
    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 bill?
    I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice. If you want legal
    advice, see a lawyer and pay for it.

    I'm not a lawyer, but my take is "no, she is not responsible at all".

    Question 2: Does Dr. Jones have a legal right to zap the credit history of Joes mother?
    Again, my answer is "no". It's not legally her debt, so Dr. Jones has
    no business reporting it as if it were.

    She may need to pay a lawyer to write a nasty letter or two to Dr.
    Jones' office. Or she could just write it herself. The basic gist is:

    1. Joe is an adult, she is not responsible for his debts even if he's on
    her medical insurance.

    2. If Dr. Jones "dings" her credit, she will sue for "slander of
    credit".

    Then she should check her credit report a few months from now (you get
    one free report a year from each major credit bureau) and if she sees a
    "ding" there she should write another letter -- and then dispute the
    charge. If they don't remove it, she should definitely see lawyer about
    suing Dr. Jones.

    Dr. Jones can make all the demands he wants to, but your Joe's mother
    doesn't have to pay and there is nothing Dr. Jones can do about it. Or
    she can write Dr. Jones and say something like, "This isn't my debt, but
    I am willing to make payments on the following schedule if you do not
    report this as a delinquent debt on "Joe"'s credit history." But she
    should get a lawyer to write that letter to make sure that she doesn't
    end up assuming legal responsibility, only making a deal to preserve her
    son's credit.

    --
    I pledge allegiance to the Constitution of the United States of America,
    and to the republic which it established, one nation from many peoples,
    promising liberty and justice for all.


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