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Debra, Lawyer
Category: Canada Law
Satisfied Customers: 97985
Experience:  Lawyer
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2.5 years ago I visited the hospital in Montreal and

Customer Question

2.5 years ago I visited the hospital in Montreal and incurred expense of $700. At the time I was a student covered under student Health insurance. I asked the clerk at the hospital to make sure I was covered and they told me not to worry they will directly bill and receive the money from my insurer (sunlife financial). 2.5 years passed and just a few days ago I received a call from a collector asking me to pay back the medical bill that I was unaware of. I contacted the hospital and found out that the hospital ended up issuing an invoice under my name 6 months after the visit when I had already moved out of that address. I never received the invoice. I then contacted my insurance company a few days ago and they said they cannot cover expenses that had incurred over 1 year ago. Now I'm stuck with a medical bill that should have been paid by my insurer 2.5 years ago and the hospital is blaming me for not forwarding my mail to my new address at at time. I don't think I should be paying the $700 bill. What are my options? Thanks!
Submitted: 8 months ago.
Category: Canada Law
Expert:  Debra replied 8 months ago.

Why did they not directly bill Sunlife as they said they would?

Where to you live?

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
Right now I live in Ontario, at that time in Montreal.This was the response they gave me:I have read and listened to your side of the situation, however the MUHC finance department has the prerogative to accept or bill the client. We have certain insurance companies that we bill for university students here in Montreal, but we do not accept out of province foreign student cards.
The registration clerk is not the final authority on the billing thus, they are given instructions to follow but they are humans as well, and can occasionally make an ill advise decision. That is why the finance department has the mandate of scrutinizing all the ER visits documentation.To send a bill after several months is not unusual nor is it a reason for non-payment on the receiver's part.. We have up to a year to issue invoices, as in other governmental institutions we have the right to review all records to ensure conformity according to Ministry directives and MUHC internal policies and procedures. Furthermore, during our conversation you had mentioned that the address you had provided was "right, but I was not really there". If our invoice and other subsequent notices were received after your departure from that address we should have obtained a "return to sender" or "moved" notice from Canada Post. Moreover, if you would have put in place a "mail forward" notice with the postal services you would have been advised of this outstanding bill.
Customer: replied 8 months ago.
This is the original email I sent them after I received a call from the collection company and they sent me the original invoice.Thank you for sending me this information, although it has been over 2.5 years since my visit to the hospital.After NCRI called me earlier today, I contacted the insurance company I had at the time I visited the hospital. I had a University Health Insurance Plan (UHIP) with SunLife which fully covered the emergency visit I had.They mentioned that the policy I had with the University of Ottawa would have covered the claim if it was made up to 365 days after the service. In my case was on January 23rd, 2014. It is not possible for them to cover it now.As I mentioned this afternoon over the phone, the only reason I accepted the treatment at the hospital was because in the Emergency room, the person in charge assured me that they would contact my insurance directly and I would have full coverage, not needing to pay anything. This was after I showed a picture of my UHIP card on my phone. Otherwise I would have gone back home because I was a student at that time and did not have enough money to cover that amount.Over the phone, you also mentioned that an invoice was sent to the address I provided to the hospital, but that invoice was sent six months later. That address was from my student residence but I moved out from that place before the invoice was made on June 11th, 2014.I am confident this was not my fault as I was told by the hospital personnel that the hospital would take care of my insurance coverage. Also because I was fully covered by that moment. Moreover, I am receiving a phone call today, after two years and a half. Certainly, I would have been happy to submit a claim to my insurance two years ago when the coverage was still valid. But this was a miscommunication issue on the hospital's side and I am not accountable for this issue, especially not after 2.5 years.Hope the hospital can find a better solution.
Customer: replied 8 months ago.
My apologies. At that time of the hospital visit: I lived in Ottawa, I was visiting Montreal during the time of the hospital visit, the invoice was sent to my Ottawa student housing address. 1 month before the invoice was sent I had already moved to Toronto since school had ended.
Expert:  Debra replied 8 months ago.

Did you have OHIP coverage then? Or are you from outside of Canada?

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
no OHIP at that point. from outside of Canada
Expert:  Debra replied 8 months ago.

So you are clearly careful and were very careful when you went to the hospital.

Had they said that you were not covered you would have gone back home to Ottawa for medical treatment.

As well, had the staff member said you had to pay directly and be reimbursed you would have done that as well.

I suggest that you do not pay but rather send them a letter to the attention of their legal department and explain what happened and make it clear that you will not pay because of their error and you are happy to have a court decide.

It is very likely they will simply write off the debt.

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