PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — In May, Devon Hawkins was in a lot of pain. Abrazo decided to go to the Peoria Emergency Center for help. Fortunately, it didn’t last long. He paid his bill and went home, but soon another bill appeared in the mail.
“I noticed it had someone else’s name,” Hawkins told On Your Side. He immediately contacted Abrazo’s billing department. “There’s no connection to our names or anything,” Hawkins added. The hospital opened an investigation and, according to Hawkins, became aware of the billing error. “The credit card I used was refunded the full amount, so I thought everything was fine,” he said. “But I kept getting bills for the same amount as the other patient. The same number over and over again, so I called them at least four more times.”
Again, someone in the billing department told him it was handled. It wasn’t “I got a bill from collections,” Hawkins said. “At this point, I am concerned that it will negatively affect my credit. In fact, I’ve talked to everyone I can, so hopefully this can be resolved.” On Your Side reached out. After we got involved, Abrazo escalated the issue. They’re working to resolve the issue, a spokesperson told us, adding in a statement. “Abrazo strives to provide quality care and excellent customer service. Any misbilling inquiries are fully investigated to resolve patient concerns.”
Abrazo did not respond to our questions about privacy concerns about Hawkins or the patient to whom the information was sent. “I hope I don’t give my information to that patient at the same time, because I don’t know if that happened,” he said.
When bills come to collections, consumers have rights. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, debt collectors have the opportunity to contact you about valid debts you owe, so the agency says consumers should review medical bills carefully to verify information, including name, billing address and insurance information. The CFPB also says consumers should verify that they received the treatments listed on the bill. “Consumer credit records total $88 trillion in medical bills,” the agency said on its website. “Medical bills are the most common collection item on people’s credit reports, appearing on 43 million credit reports. One in five households report having unpaid medical bills. Additionally, medical billing, collections and credit reports are complex, confusing and prone to errors they usually have
If you receive an incorrect bill that ends up in collection like Hawkins did, you have the right to ask a debt collector to verify the debt. If it’s your legitimate debt, debt collectors can’t report medical bills to credit reporting companies without first trying to collect money from you, according to the CFPB.
Copyright 2022 KTVK/KPHO. All rights reserved.