Need advice: I think my doctor violated HIPAA laws

Discussion in 'The Fire Hydrant' started by milos_mommy, Feb 10, 2016.

  1. milos_mommy

    milos_mommy Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2006
    Messages:
    15,349
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    I really probably should talk to a lawyer, but...

    I've seen this doctor for the past ten years. He's a small practice - the only practitioner there. We have always had a great patient-Doctor relationship. I've recommended him to dozens of friends, even giving out his card at the law office I used to work at, and endorsed him on a local FB page.

    I saw him in July for three visits. My insurance, which has been the same for basically ever, always covered visits.

    In September, I found out that my claim was denied because my deductible wasn't met, even though that never mattered before. I found out because I received a bill in the mail. He even only charged me for two visits, which was super nice.

    Before I got a chance to pay this bill, I ended up giving birth. I had a lot of complications afterwards, couldn't drive or even get out of bed for a few weeks, and didn't get around to paying the bill. In early December he called and asked if I got the bill. I said I had...but after the complications, I had a lot of unexpected expenses, more bills for tests, copays and uncovered medication costs, I couldn't work for longer than I expected...it was also right before Christmas when he called, so I figured that I'd pay in January when businesses were running again, I could get to the bank, whatever. I have a lot of med bills, there's always a big grace period, etc.

    In early January he called again. He was EXTEMELY nasty on the phone. I apologized and told him, honestly, it slipped my mind, it was hard to get to the bank with two small kids, I'd be sure to get him a check ASAP. I did really want to pay him quickly, I respected him as a doctor, would have liked to continue using him, and appreciated him lowering my bill in the first place. He was really really rude and even threatening on the phone, but I brushed it off thinking maybe he was having a bad day or a lot of people were behind on payments, whatever.

    I did in fact write out a check, but before I was able to send it, my mother told me this doctor called her multiple times leaving extremely nasty and threatening voicemails regarding my late payment. I'm assuming he got her number from an emergency contact form, but is this at all legal?!? I'm pretty sure he shouldn't even be disclosing that I'm a patient of his, much less that I owe him money and what I was there for.

    I don't know if I should just report this as a HIPAA violation, or call him and let him know he's violating it and to stop calling me and my family up to 6 times a day to leave nasty voicemails? I'm also pretty certain doctors aren't supposed to call about late medical bills like that, either. I feel bad I didn't pay on time, but it was an unexpected bill at a really rough time (not just financially)..and I'm pretty sure what he's doing is illegal.
     
  2. release the hounds

    release the hounds Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2008
    Messages:
    4,381
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Occupation:
    7
    Location:
    Midwest
    Extremely unethical yes, but I don't think there's any type of violation. If your parent's number was given as a contact number, maybe even years ago, he can call it.

    HIPPA is always fun, i've been thru more stuff on it, and even the people telling what it's supposed to be, can't agree on everything :) The biggest part is, no details on health or health history can be given out. The fact that you've been somewhere or have a bill from an office are generally not considered violations. Now if they called and told you your results for such and such test were neg/positive for blah, blah, blah and you didn't clearly indicate that you wished to receive messages at that number, then that IS a violation.

    There's nothing stopping any type of provider from collecting on debts owed other than bankruptcy. They can hire a staff, do it themselves, give to a collection agency, hire an attorney etc.

    If nothing else I'd report him to his state licensing board and let them handle it. Maybe they make his life a little troublesome for a while, or not, but I don't think HIPPA is the way to go.
     
  3. eddieq

    eddieq Silence! I ban you! Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2007
    Messages:
    8,825
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    PA
  4. milos_mommy

    milos_mommy Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2006
    Messages:
    15,349
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Thank you both!!
     
  5. release the hounds

    release the hounds Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2008
    Messages:
    4,381
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Occupation:
    7
    Location:
    Midwest
    I'm not sure those apply, as his office is the provider of services, not a debt collector trying to collect debt for his office. The rules are different. I would contact the state licensing board if it was really egregious.
     
  6. sassafras

    sassafras mushinois

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2011
    Messages:
    6,405
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Location:
    Minnesota
    What are you hoping to gain by reporting him? Would you rather he have just turned you over to collections? Reporting him is going to keep this situation in your life for some time to come, and if the principal of the thing is important enough to you for that to happen then by all means look into the legality of him calling your family.

    Personally I'd just pay my bill and move along with my life, since I was the one who didn't pay my bill in the first place. If he's a small, one doctor practice he really can't afford to not be paid for months. He's essentially given you a 5-6 month interest free loan - and everyone has an explanation, but he can't pay his own bills with explanations.
     
  7. milos_mommy

    milos_mommy Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2006
    Messages:
    15,349
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    I think if he just called my family and asked for my contact info or something I wouldn't mind, even if he said it was about an unpaid debt. But he's literally called her multiple times a day for a few days and left voicemails threatening both me and her. This was AFTER he spoke to me and I told him I was sending the check, in fact if I hadn't seen my mom so shortly after he called I would have already mailed the check before I found out he did this. And yes, I'd have rather he turned it over to collections before harassing my mother.

    I know the majority of this guys patients are elderly as well, and it bothers me to think he's probably doing the same thing to them, too.
     
  8. sassafras

    sassafras mushinois

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2011
    Messages:
    6,405
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Location:
    Minnesota
    What are you basing this on?
     
  9. joce

    joce Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2005
    Messages:
    4,448
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Occupation:
    6
    Location:
    Ohio
    The debt collection agency would just call and do the same thing and he would get a fifth of the money. Drs don't really make out. They pay out the rear for malpractice ins. You sign saying they can collect a debt or they wouldn't treat you. I'd pay him.
     
  10. Fran27

    Fran27 New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2005
    Messages:
    10,641
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    New Jersey
    Well for what it's worth, I would be peeved if I had to chase down every single customer to get paid too. Sorry. 3 month delay on a bill is not a small delay and I'd be pretty peeved as well.

    If your employer was 3 months late on paying you, how would you react?
     
  11. release the hounds

    release the hounds Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2008
    Messages:
    4,381
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Occupation:
    7
    Location:
    Midwest
    I should clarify, the bill should be paid.

    and i suggested the licensing board because it was not a HIPPA violation or anything needing a lawyer. and that was if things were really out of line, threatening anything other than further action to collect a debt is out of line for a provider. Saying they extended a favor and want the debt paid is not out of line, even if they don't sound happy. The licensing board will probably convey that message too. Even if they called your parents. Are you sure they didn't sign a promise to pay at some point too?

    Lots of places get the signature of everyone they can, because it gives them more people to collect a debt from.

    But if they're threatening anything other than collecting a debt, well it's not good for anybody, and other providers, though not a fan of people that don't pay their bills, don't really want that in the profession either.
     
  12. RBark

    RBark Got Floof?

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2008
    Messages:
    961
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    He could do a lot worse (negatively impact your credit score, and take you to court).

    I'd pay the bill and move on. Time spent chasing down money is time spent not making money. I can understand his frustration.
     
  13. Dogdragoness

    Dogdragoness Happy Spring!!!!

    Joined:
    May 31, 2012
    Messages:
    4,168
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Occupation:
    2
    Location:
    Gillett/Flower Mound TX
    Yep, same here, when someone owes me money and I am even nice enough to charge them less than what I *could* have I'd be a little pissed, too if they "forgot" to pay me. If you were unable to go anywhere, you should have at least called him and told him what was going on, and that you might be slightly delayed in paying the bill due to health issues. Or, you should've had someone go to the bank for you and pay the bill.

    People think of doctors (and vets!) as these rich people rolling in money, but in fact, it's not always true, especially for a small practice. So yeah, IMO he kind of has a right to be pissed, was he a jerk about it? Yes, but I can see why he was, I mean he has bills, too, you know.

    FWIW, most of his elderly patients probably are on some kind of medicare, and he gets paid by them.

    In short? Wrong was done on all sides here.
     
  14. casey82

    casey82 New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2013
    Messages:
    131
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Occupation:
    2
    Location:
    Minnesota
    Oh HIPAA. I worked in a hospital for 8.5 years doing insurance stuff. I was an admissions rep. Unfortunately he absolutely is in his right to contact your emergency contact. That person is fair game as it is listed on your admissions paperwork. However, you are absolutely right. He should not be discussing why you were seen. That is a violation. All he should say I really need to speak to her regarding important financial information.
     

Share This Page