Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Statute of Limitations Medical Bills?

Maybe part of the reason Americans have a difficult time healing after a traumatic medical event is because of the potential non-health related aftermath.

As some of you are aware, I was in active monthly treatment for an arteriovenous malformation (AVM) from 2005-2010. Since that time my doctors are in a holding pattern, watching the condition with annual MRIs. Although those annual tests do remind me of the rough patch I've been through regarding those treatments, I usually try and not think about them. They were a huge financial burden, physically/emotionally draining, and although there are residual issues from the built up scar tissue etc... I really try and focus on my life now rather than living in the past.

Focusing on the present is difficult, however, when just yesterday I received a statement for one of those treatments done in May of 2008!

I'm not sure why a single bill from almost 5 years ago, that should have long ago been paid by my primary and secondary insurance (from that time), would just now resurface. Looking at the statement it appears my 2008 insurance companies were only first billed this past November (2012). That doesn't make any kind of sense to me though.

It's possible I still have an EOB (explanation of benefits) somewhere in the stack of paperwork I tossed into a file cabinet so many years ago--- but to be honest with you, the idea of having to dig through all of that to find one single piece of paper sounds like a punishment I wouldn't wish on anyone.  Don't get me wrong, if I have to do it I will do it. However, the fact that this is even a topic for discussion seems inherently incorrect.

Perhaps I'm wrong, but by this point if there was an unpaid charge wouldn't the hospital have written it off on their books?

I live at the exact same home address since before this billed treatment and I never received a bill until now for it. I also haven't received a bill for any of the other treatments I had done within that year. So why this bill? Why now?

I am not the only one who has received medical bills for a surgery/treatment years after the fact, but I do not understand how this occurs. No one can tell me with a straight face that the hospital simply "forgot" I had a treatment and only remembered 5 years later.

No wonder Americans (particularly-because we are the only ones with an insurance system like ours) often times are unable to pick themselves up after a medical trauma.  How can someone completely move on when they are unexpectedly reminded of it again and again years after the fact?