The American Hospital Association, the California Healthcare Association, and the Hospital and Health System Association of Pennsylvania have all published that hospitals should have written policies that establish when and under whose authority patient debt is advanced for collection. The American Hospital Association says that hospitals are responsible for establishing the standard for debt collection with third party collectors and that the hospitals are ultimately responsible for the actions of the collector. All hospitals should have some level of supervision over their collection agency. The collection agency should not have the authority to sue on their own accord without approval from the hospital.

You do not want to be sent to collections. When you’re dealing with a biller you have many options. They can setup payment plans and you can apply for fnancial aid. You can get deferments and in some cases, you can develop rapport and possibly get bills for some services waived. You don’t have any of these options when you are sent to collections. If you were already sent to collections before you picked up this book, we have to get the biller to reverse their bad debt write-off. This is the most diffcult thing that I’ll teach you to do and I am saving it for last. First, I want you to understand how billers think and how to talk to billers.

I want you to get a feel for a day in the life of a biller. Billers may work a slightly later schedule than the normal 8-5 day because they are better able to reach people at home in the evenings. They do not like to call people at work if they can avoid it. If they call you in the morning, that means they want to leave you a message and that they don’t necessarily need to speak to you directly.

Each biller will monitor 500 to 800 accounts per month. If you do the arithmetic, that means they have to make 20-35 calls per day to reach everyone once a month. That means they only want to spend fve to ten minutes on each call per day. An account holder that keeps a biller on the phone for a half hour telling a sob story can become very irritating to a

42 // The Medical Bill Survival Guide