Collections Law/Collection Problem
Hi Steve. I have an interesting situation and I'm hoping you can set me in the right direction to resolve it.
In Sept 2012 I entered an outpatient rehab program to deal with a alcohol problem I had at the time. I attended two day-long sessions per week for three weeks (6 sessions). I was told when I enrolled that I had to agree to urinalysis tests to see if I was drinking. These tests were supposed to be around $50 each and were not covered by insurance. I agreed and submitted a total of 6 samples in those 3 weeks. A year later I got a bill from the lab that conducted the tests for $2,100. That's $350 per sample (not what I agreed to). In looking at the bill I saw that the alcohol portion of the test was indeed $50, but they also tested me for for several other substances (e.g. cocaine and heroin) that I was not seeking treatment for. When I questioned the rehabilitation center (which contracts out the lab work) they said that even though the the lab can provide an alcohol only test, the rehab center only orders the full workup for everyone, and the issue was between me and the lab.
This honestly is beginning to feel like a scam and I that I was lied to. I have offered to pay what I agreed to for a total of $250, but the lab is still going after me for the full $2,100. What can I do get these people off my back and protect my credit without having to hire a lawyer?
The first and most obviois question I have is: Is any of this in writing? If the Urinalysis only part is in writing then the rest of the analysis is both unauthorized by you and may even be an invasion of privacy issue between you and the faciliy. If not, then you may very well be liable for the whole bil because it would fall under the "Doctrine of Necessaries" - you are responsible for your own necessary expenses, authorized or not and medical expenses are usually classified as "necessary".
As far as protecting your credit is concerned you really have only one option and that is to pay the $2100. If you don't the lab will probably send the matter to a collechion agency which will most likely will ding your credit and ask questions later. You will need to decide which, in the short term, is more important to you - pristine credit or the principles involved here.
Obviously, if the lab or the medical facility overstepped their authorization from you then you have a much stronger case, but that will only depend on what is in writing. You need a copy of your complete file from the facility to see exactly what they were authorized to do and, more importantly, what they were NOT authorized to do.