She had a baby and the insurance paid. Then $4,500 in medical bills were sent to collections.

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Rebecca Overholt welcomed her first baby on September 20 at Jersey City Medical Center.

What she didn’t appreciate was the medical billing mess that followed.

It all started with a December text saying she had an invoice from Sheridan Children’s Healthcare Services, a supplier to the hospital, which gave her a link to click on. Fearing it was a scam and knowing that her family had maxed out on their health insurance plan, she ignored it.

Then the Jersey City woman received a bill dated Dec. 31 from Envision Physician Services, a medical billing company, for $4,579.83.

“I didn’t recognize the company, and it was very clear there were duplicate charges,” Overholt said. “So now I had a paper bill over a text. I still thought it was absolute nonsense.

She said she called the billing company to inquire about the bill. They determined there had been some sort of mix-up because Overholt’s son was not properly registered with their insurance company – his Social Security number had originally been lost in the mail – but it had since been corrected.

“The first person I spoke to on the phone apologized and promised to get it fixed,” she said. “It seemed reasonable and I thought the matter was settled.”

But another bill came in February, this time for $709.83.

“This bill contained less information and simply said that I owed money. No trace of submission to my insurance, no explanation. Just the bill,” she said. “Now I was angry.”

She said she called back, but this time the automated system said Overholt owed more than $2,000.

“The second person took our information, said to disregard any other bills and promised to fix it, and rushed me to hang up the phone,” Overholt said. “I was appeased, but wary, because I did not receive any confirmation.”

Then, the first week of April, she received a debt collection notice listing five different charges: $176.84, $228.13 and three charges of $101.62. It was equivalent to at least $709.83, she said, but now she was furious.

She said she called back, and again the automated system said she owed over $2,000.

“When I got to one person, they couldn’t get me off the phone fast enough. She said they were going to pay off the debt and hung up on me,” Overholt said. “I couldn’t even ask questions. “

She called the debt collector.

“They said they actually had many opinions for me, all of the same thing, split into pieces,” she said. “I told them to send it back because the whole bill was wrong.”

Then she contacted her insurance company, which found that one claim had been paid and no claims were denied or pending, she said.

A few days later, new collection notice. This time it was for $467, $571 and three charges for $299, for a total of $1,935.

“It all looks like a scam and an attempt to scare me or tire me into paying them,” she said, calling it a “predatory practice.”

She asked Bamboozled for help.

GET IT FIXED

The Envision Physician Services website says it treats 130 million patients a year.

It has an “F” rating by the Better Business Bureau, with 20 complaints closed in the last 12 months and 40 closed in the last three years.

We reviewed Overholt’s invoices and collection notices, and asked Envision to look into the matter.

Before the week was out, Overholt’s phone rang.

She said someone from Envision called, apologized profusely for the mistakes, and said everything would be fine, including canceling the collection company.

“She was fumbling a lot to try to explain, but it seemed like multiple reports had been generated for the same item, along with a missed payment from the insurance company,” Overholt said. “It was implied that I might still owe some money, but they’re waiving it.”

We asked Envision to explain what happened.

He said the company has determined that “due to a processing error, multiple accounts were created in his name which resulted in incorrect information being reported and ultimately account balances unpaid”.

The company confirmed that Overholt had a zero balance and that all invoices had been removed from collections.

“I’m relieved,” Overholt said. “And ticked off that they do this to new parents.” It shouldn’t take five months, a journalist and a really squeaky wheel to sort this out.

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Karin Price Mueller can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @KPMueller.

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