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A few weeks after my wife gave birth, the medical bills started rolling in. One of them was addressed to "BB Last Name)." Our last name is not common but there are other people in our city with the same last name. We assumed that it was just a mix up so we returned the bill to the sender and forgot about it. Perhaps a month later, we again received this bill and again, we returned it to the sender. We meant to call, but well, you know how it is, life with kids...

My insurance company did not pay any of it so now we are in collections (the bill is in my wife's name). The bill is for thousands of dollars, which we cannot afford. I have no proof that they sent the original bill to the "wrong name" (which we only realized later that BB must have stood for Baby Boy), because we returned both of them. What options do I have?

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    I am confused. You said one of the bills was addressed to some name that was not your wife's name? But later you said the bill is in your wife's name? So were the bills all addressed to someone else's name? Or did the bills later start coming in your wife's name? Or did your wife's name only appear in the collections notices and not the original bills? – user102008 Aug 24 '18 at 18:16
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    @user102008 The bill was sent to the baby (it's for care provided after birth) and user13803 wasn't familiar with how it's handled when they don't know the name of the baby. – Loren Pechtel Aug 24 '18 at 21:55
  • @LorenPechtel: Okay, but if the OP and/or his wife are the people who accepted financial responsibility for the baby's medical costs, then the bills should be addressed to the OP and/or his wife (who, in theory, could be living at a different address from the baby), and (in my opinion) only at that point can they be held responsible for not paying. – user102008 Aug 24 '18 at 22:13
  • Yeah sorry, my question was edited and I think it is a bit less clear. The bill addressed to "BB" must be the one that went to collections, but the collections account is in my wife's name. We've had other children, and we'd never seen a bill addressed to "BB." The baby's name was no secret and he was already on our insurance (minus SSN since that comes later). – user13803 Aug 26 '18 at 2:51
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You made an honest mistake. It's OK, it happens. I would recommend calling the billing department of the doctor/hospital and explaining the situation. They might not believe you, but if you're polite and honest about working with them to rectify the situation, they may be willing to pull the bill from collections and work with you on a long-term payment plan. Once that communication has been established, send a notification to the collection agency, in writing, stating that you have started working with the doctor/hospital on arrangements and that they should contact them for further details. The goal is to get yourself back on track with communication with the billing party.

You should also contact the insurance company and have them review the bill. Sometimes insurance companies receive bills that are coded or submitted incorrectly. Find out exactly why they're not covering anything and see if there is a path to getting the bill reevaluated for coverage. This may entail speaking with the billing department of the doctor/hospital and having them resubmit. The part that can be confusing and is different dependent on your coverage is the fact that the bill was addressed to your baby. Some insurance companies don't recognize the baby as an insurable individual until up to 30 days after birth, meaning all bills would be applied to the mother's coverage (deductibles, out of pocket, etc.) Other insurance companies recognize the baby from day 1 and that baby has their own deductible, out of pocket, etc. You may also be able to have the billing department resubmit as a bill under the mother rather than under the baby. It depends on how things are set up and the contracts they have negotiated with the insurance company.

Communication is your friend right now. Getting as much in writing as possible is also going to be helpful. If the billing department agrees to have the bill removed from collections so you can work with them, get something in writing. Any communication with the collection agency should be in writing.

There are a few other questions on this site that address disputing bills that have already gone to collections, so it may be worth searching for things like "debt collection" or "hospital bill" and reading through them for additional information.

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I used to work for third party administrator of benefits. Not just that I went through that long list of medical bills just over 2 years ago when our daughter was born. Be very carefull with all the bills. Make sure to cross reference them with the EOB (explanation of benefits from your insurance company). You're not obligated to pay more unless you had a service not covered under your insurance plan. Mix ups do happen and it's not an emergency as long as you take direct actions to remedy the issue. It went to collections because you didnt address it. Simply call the company up and explain the mix up. Bills are almost always tied to your SSN and personal information. If it's not you just because you receive the bill doesnt mean that you are the one being targeted in collections. Just make sure it wasnt identity theft which also happens in the medical billing and insurance space. If it was you'll need to go through a few more hoops to remedy it definitely can be done by filling out the paperwork and filing a police report.

PS: pay close attention to those bills they double bill a lot and make sure to not double pay bills because they like to send them out with a balance after you paid. I had 1 bill received from the anesthesiologist a year after our daughter was born. They messed up and never billed the insurance and sent us a bill for several thousand dollars. To make a long story short they could no longer submit the claim and ate the balance because of their mess up. Medical billing is a nightmare for the consumer.

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