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Collections Law/minimum payment that is acceptable

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Question
I billed for the MRI we performed for this female patient.  Her insurance allowed $459.77 and applied this same amount to her annual deductible. They paid us 00.  I mailed a statement to her for the $459.77 and included a copy of the insurance carrier's explanation of benefits so she could see how the amount due was arrived at.  She didn't call to attempt to arrange some sort of payment plan for incremental payments on this debt. Over a month later, she mailed a credit card payment slip authorizing payment of exactly $29.77.  I called her and told her I have to let her know such a small payment against the amount due is just not acceptable to us.  She responded that we have no choice but to accept whatever amount she decides she can pay.  Her "husband" called and told me it was Federal law that we have to accept whatever amount they decide they can pay and if I am rude to her again he will contact an attorney to complain that I am harassing her.  I just told him disagreeing with her and simply stating our side of the matter without raising my voice or using uncivilized language is not rude behavior. Do I have to accept whatever amount they decide they want to pay?  They didn't even bother to state our bill represented a financial hardship for them!

Answer
Your innocence is overwhelming.   Seriously, you are too nice  a person to be working as a bill collector -   the world is not that simple.    In this case, they pay what they pay and it does not affect either your employer’s right or their rights if you cash (or accept) what they pay -  they still owe the balance.   And getting into back and forth with an irate husband is pointless.    As for the federal law, harassment, etc., don’t lose any sleep over this.    A legitimate  case of harassment  takes a heck of a lot more than   what happened here.   To put it bluntly, you guys are probably going to have to eat this one.    Send them a 1099 for a “forgiven” debt and at least your employer will be able to write off the amount on your employer’s taxes (and the patient will have to include the amount forgiven as income on their own taxes - unless they file bankruptcy or are financially insolvent).

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