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Collection Agencies and Health Care Companies, the New Jewish Mafia - Salvador Dali in a lawn chair.
I'm invisible without 3D glasses.
Collection Agencies and Health Care Companies, the New Jewish Mafia
I'm sitting at my desk after only three hours of broken sleep, bawling and choking on my own tears like the playground bully just broke all my She-Ra action figures.

Let me tell you a story, an everyman's story. I'll pick my words for brevity and accuracy, since undoubtedly this tale is common enough that you've heard it already in some form or another. No matter how end is reached, whatever route my life follows, the result for nearly every story is the same, collection agencies and health care providers are this century's and last's paramount evil. The are very few supervillians remaining. Those that have survived decades of penicillin, whistleblower press, and the National Endowment of the Arts have had to be sneaky, vigilant, and disguise themselves as a necessary evil.

In the summer of last year (July 2002) I finally paid off three and a half years of credit card debt. While in the nest I'd been taught of good spending and credit behavior from my mother, father, and pervasive extended family influence. However, through college and my time living in Atlanta with Matt, I'd still let things slip out of control. It took me over two years of not-spending, paying as much as I could, and one final hefty swoop by grandparentals helps to finally finish paying them off.

One month later, my first kidney stone sent me screaming to the hospital in the middle of the still-dark morning without insurance, racking up another $1500 in medical bills. What I got for my pain and money was a urine strainer and an order to make a follow-up appointment with a specialist. I didn't even get to catch or see the costly little rock. After feeling overwhelming stupid and sore from financial rape, I decided to bypass the extra $300+ I'd be spending on the specialist to tell me, "Yup, dat dere was a rock youse had in yer pisser."

Refusing to put this newly acquired debt back onto my credit cards, I arranged by phone with each of the three billing parties (hospital, emergency group, and radiology group) to pay a little bit every month ($25). Everyone person I spoke to agreed to the arrangement, and I started my slow, winding road back to being mostly-debt-free (school loans don't count).

I paid these bills each month, timely, and in the amount to which I'd agreed, every time I received a new bill, even if I sometimes got three statements every two months. I will spare you the rest of the details (unless you want them to lend more legitimacy to my tale).

Two of the three bills are sent to collection agencies, while I am paying on them, despite my having expressly arranged with the correct billing people, and their acceptance of this arrangement. No one, not the billing company, not the collection agency, informs me that these bills that I am still paying on at the original company are delinquent.

I don't even find out that these bills are with two separate collection agencies until six months later (February) when I receive some nasty, harassment-style phone calls from one collection agency. I try to get it recalled by the original radiology company, but I get some feeble excuse that it's no longer in the computer system after it's sent to a collection agency. To rub in a handful of salt, the collection agency improperly typed my address when I updated it with them on the phone and have been beleaguering me with more phone calls because they haven't received my payment.

Two months later (today), curious as to why the second of my bills has stopped coming, I call the hospital. It was sent to a collection agency back in October even though they'd been receiving payments up through the new year. This lady at least is going to try to recall it from the agency, especially since I'd been paying the whole time and the collection agency has yet to contact me via phone or mail to either of my addresses since October, six months ago!

The only positive note in this entire piece is that the third bill was never turned over to a collector and that the lady at the hospital (trying to recall the second bill) was decent and helpful.

I am weeping angry, helpless, bitter tears. It wounds me that clerical errors and computer billing defaults can undermine months of timely payments and agreements. That these people have so much power over me, my name, and my reputation. That they can harass me by phone or mail. That their apathy or their condescension greets me on the phone like the stale breath of medieval tax collectors.

I lie here, kneecaps broken, my feet trapped in concrete shoes dangling over the edge of a boat, holding up money to the collection agencies and medical companies while they push my limp body over the edge and down into murky, choking waters.

mood: irate irate
music: T.a.T.u. - Stars

16 Voices in a Chorus | Lift Your Voice Aloft
ch3ckmate From: ch3ckmate Date: March 24th, 2003 01:02 pm (UTC) (link)
bless your heart. why are people so utterly uncaring? *hug*
lost_angel From: lost_angel Date: March 25th, 2003 04:14 am (UTC) (link)
I think a lot of the condescension comes from the fact that agencies do have an elevated position over the normal populace, because they have the power to punish or reward people at their whim.

I'm sure, too, they expect customers to be belligerant on the phone (of course, the customers feel like they have no power) and cop the snippy tone, thinking that they will pre-empt all back-talk.

Thank you for the hug.

And I wub your puppy picture!
princessmargo From: princessmargo Date: March 24th, 2003 01:06 pm (UTC) (link)


poor gingie, i'm so sorry. nobody deserves this shittiness, especially not you. it's GOTTA get better, though.
lost_angel From: lost_angel Date: March 25th, 2003 04:16 am (UTC) (link)

Re: sympathy

Golly, if it doesn't get better, I think I'll take to drinking.

Actually, that sounds like a grand idea. :D Let's all go get sloppy.
From: skyana Date: March 24th, 2003 01:41 pm (UTC) (link)
What a crappy thing to happen. I'm sorry hon. This may seem besides the point now, but one of the biggest lessons I've learned in life from working in a law firm is get *everything* in writing. It makes problem solving a lot easier.
lost_angel From: lost_angel Date: March 25th, 2003 04:03 am (UTC) (link)
Very good advice.
gsan From: gsan Date: March 24th, 2003 02:46 pm (UTC) (link)


That is *fooking* crazy, hon. Tho, I guess it's to be expected; every time I've seen a collection agency get involved in a matter, things get fucked up.

One thing you might want to consider: getting a credit report on yourself (can be done a bunch of different ways, including www.freecreditreport.com I think), and contest every item that agency(ies?) put on there. Since you already have an agreement with the hospital in place, it should work.
lost_angel From: lost_angel Date: March 25th, 2003 04:06 am (UTC) (link)
My credit cards have offered several promotional "two free monthly of credit reports". I even signed up for one of them once, intending to cancel during the free period. However, they never sent the reports and billed me anyway. Luckily I had my credit card company remove the fee.

I will, however, try www.freecreditreport.com or whatever it's called. But I plan to try it in about three to four months, just to make sure that everyone I've spoken to (at the hospital and at the collection agencies) has kept their word and removed the negative additions.
catgoddess From: catgoddess Date: March 24th, 2003 03:55 pm (UTC) (link)
That really sucks. I'm soooooooooooo sorry.
I know how agrivating it can be. My cell provider cut off my mom's and my cell phones because they thought we had racked up $500 worth of calls on our phones. After about a month of trying to tell them we certainly didn't make those calls, they finally said they'd look into it and turned our phones back on. We never did get a price break for that either.
lost_angel From: lost_angel Date: March 25th, 2003 04:25 am (UTC) (link)
Nope, even when the company makes the error, you still have to live with the loss of money, time, and emotional well-being. Plus, they expect you to just shut-up about it, to be thankful that they finally took care of the situation, and rarely apologizing.
catgoddess From: catgoddess Date: March 26th, 2003 08:31 pm (UTC) (link)
There really is no justice in this world for things like that. It pisses me off.
sxyblkmn From: sxyblkmn Date: March 24th, 2003 04:33 pm (UTC) (link)
i feel ya on that cutie...
i'm facing the same problem with my student loans...
*the rage has overcome me, and i can no longer form coherent thoughts and/or words.*
lost_angel From: lost_angel Date: March 25th, 2003 04:26 am (UTC) (link)
Hey, gibberish makes for good expletives, too!
From: spiderknight Date: March 24th, 2003 05:42 pm (UTC) (link)
If it's any consolation, babe, I've had the same problems with an Oxford hospital and some nasty collectors...

I said to myself (two years ago) 'what harm can one little day at the beach do?'

One hellacious sunburn and two years later, I still can't get the monsters to go away with their letters and phone calls and what have you.

Have faith. Your day will come. You likely won't know it because they'll never say 'you were right; we were wrong,' but still, oyur day will come.
lost_angel From: lost_angel Date: March 25th, 2003 04:35 am (UTC) (link)
I don't think I've heard a good story come out of the Baptist Memorial emergency room...almost everyone I know have had a bad experience with them, either near or full-fledged medical negligence or bad billing practices or both.
thomas_rain From: thomas_rain Date: April 30th, 2003 09:23 am (UTC) (link)
Honestly... I really do not think people realize what they are doing when the fuck with people like this. They assume that people aren't going to do anything but get mad, and maybe talk shit... then go home and watch TV. That is, until they meet someone like me - and I bring 15 people with AK's and glocks... cut all the phone/alarm systems in the building and demand my shit get taken care of.

Ok, so I've never actually done that - But one day... I swear
16 Voices in a Chorus | Lift Your Voice Aloft