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Guillermo J. Senmartin, Esq.
Guillermo J. Senmartin, Esq., Immigration Lawyer
Category: Immigration Law
Satisfied Customers: 105582
Experience:  10+ years of experience in various aspects of U.S. Immigration Law.
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I'm writing regarding a surprise medical bill. A year ago I

Customer Question

Dear Sir,
I'm writing regarding a surprise medical bill.
A year ago I walked into Presbyterian hospital emergency. I didn't have a very serious issue, but some mild concerns.
I knew there could be charges and I started my explanation at the Reception with explaining that I have no insurance and no money, and I need to know how much it would cost me to be seen. I told them I needed all prices upfront and that I couldn't afford or accept paid service.
This was repeated throughout my appointment and everyone told me not to worry about. Their behavior and nodding made me 100% confident that they wanted to give me free advice.
After my appointment, I warned and asked them about my inability to afford anything they didn't warn me about beforehand.
The only form I was given to sign was with my European name and address.
No other information was requested or provided.
A year later I receive a letter from the international debt collection agency, claiming $800 for that visit.
I appreciate doctors service and I love paying my bills, but in these circumstances, when I was demanding every information and estimation upfront and repeated about being there not for any paid services, I feel I was deliberately forced into this situation and my customer /human rights will be non existent to battle this off.
Your advice is much appreciated.
Thank you
Submitted: 1 month ago.
Category: Immigration Law
Expert:  Guillermo J. Senmartin, Esq. replied 1 month ago.

Hello! My name is***** and I am a licensed attorney with more than 14 years of experience. I am here to assist you with your questions. Please understand that if I ask you for additional information, you are NOT charged again and our communications are NOT timed. So please see this as a relaxed conversation between friends. I am here to help.

Please give me a few minutes to review your question and I will be right with you with an answer. Sorry for any delay. I may have to do some research and at the same time I read and type fast, but not that fast! Thank you for your patience.

Expert:  Guillermo J. Senmartin, Esq. replied 1 month ago.

Why is this with an international debt collector? Were you in one country when you went to the hospital and now live in another country?

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
I live in Europe. It was a short trip to the US. I gave them my European address.
I was repeating ti give me fees estimating before providing any service as I was not going to enter any binding agreement blindly.
Expert:  Guillermo J. Senmartin, Esq. replied 1 month ago.

Did you sign anything? Do you have any proof other than your word against theirs that you were adamant that you did not want to enter into an agreement for service? Also, did you expect to be treated for free? Do you believe that perhaps Medicaid may have paid for part or all of the services that you received? And finally, what type of visa do you normally use to come to the U.S. and when will you come back?

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
Thank you. I only signed the name and contact details form, maybe something to describe my symptoms and no allergies.
After asking them about payment dozen of times I was led to believe that they will help me free of charge, as this is my lifetime experience in Europe.
I also couldn't comprehend that a big hospital would ignore so many warnings and requests to provide me with upfront pricelist only to let me go (without asking and mentioning ANY payment) and to start contacting me a year later.
Tourist visitor visa (I had).
It's my word against theirs, yes -- but I feel absolutely lured and used and misled (apologies for briskly language) -- I would prefer being heard by a court via video link, and I am happy to be tested on lie -detector in local police (just imagining the possibilities!) -- as this is not a question of paying less but of me being deliberately misled.
Thank you.
Expert:  Guillermo J. Senmartin, Esq. replied 1 month ago.

Ok. I understand. The problem is that you were offered service and that service has to be paid. There is no free health care in the U.S. Luckily, because it is such a small bill and you are outside of the U.S., they aren't going to spend thousands or even tens of thousands to sue you to recover $800. The international collection agency may try to scare you into paying, but it really has no teeth since no one is going to spend lots of money to try to collect from you. IF you want, let's say you think $400 would have been reasonable for the service, negotiate with the international collect agency. Maybe they would be willing to accept $400 in one lump sum, or $200 in two payments, or whatever. I'm sure they will be amenable to getting something since they are in a very weak position. As to your visa, you have to make sure that it is only a civil debt and not that U.S. Medicaid paid for anything because that's basically the U.S. taxpayer paying for your treatment which isn't fair and the next time that you use your B-2 tourist visa, the officer at the port of entry could stop you and deny you entry for having become a public charge. I cannot tell you how to check if Medicaid paid for anything other than my speaking to the international collection agency. I honestly would be surprised if Medicaid paid anything. I think that's most likely a small private debt owed to the hospital is all and no government funds were used.

My goal is to provide you with excellent service – if you feel you have received anything less, please reply back as I am happy to address follow-up questions and there is no additional charge. Also, should you need to chat on the phone, private email or need help reviewing documentation, I am happy to do so for a small additional cost. Let me know if you are interested in these – I am happy to give you more details! If you have no further questions (at this time) please leave a positive rating for my service. I would sincerely ***** ***** You can do that by clicking on the 3rd, 4th or 5th stars or smiley faces if you see them. If you do not see any stars or smiley faces, you may have to scroll up to the top of the page or click on my name and they should come out. Also, your session does NOT close when leaving a positive rating, so you can continue to ask additional questions without additional charge. Thank you for your understanding.

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
Thank you. I don't think hiding from bills or paying for something Ive asked to provide me with a price for is fair.
Can you please provide me with the law number and constitutional chapters where it says what commutements the hospitals and their staff have to inform me and to answer my financial questions.
I passionately believe there is a law saying that it was illegal to deny me this information and to mislead me, when I came in there.
Your advice was about how to escape or lessen the bill. My question was what laws (numbers, chapters) are on my side.
I feel discriminated and harassed by this situation as I was honest and upfront with the hospital staff during my visit.
Thank you sir
Expert:  Guillermo J. Senmartin, Esq. replied 1 month ago.

But isn't that what you are trying to do anyway, escape or lessen the bill? You just want a law on your side that says you should get free service because no one told you exactly what the cost would be? And with a law on your side you can escape or lessen the bill?

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
No Sir, I walked in to a hospital and told them I couldn't afford to receive paid service and wanted to know how much it would cost to be seen. They made me believe everything was fine and they would see me even though I had no money and insurance.
Please kindly provide me with the law number and constitutional articles that explain what commutements medical staff and hospitals have to notify customers before providing service. I did absolutely everything to be law orbiting citizen and I prefer to research on my rights through a court if I must.
Please kindly send me the law numbers / constitutional excerpts explaining about doctors obligations to inform me about financial binding in time.
I only applied to this website to learn about the list of laws.
Thank you
Expert:  Guillermo J. Senmartin, Esq. replied 1 month ago.

That will require legal research which is not the prevue of this website as that can be charged at an attorney hourly rate which could be between $150 to $300 an hour or more. What I did do for you is reach out to a friend of mine that is in charge of collections for various hospitals and has many years of experience and I will confer with him to see if he has what you desire immediately available. Since I am not given a salary to be here, only a small portion of your deposit, that's really the only affordable way that I can do it for you. Let me know if that is fine and I thank you for your patience.

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
Thank you Sir.
I will use other methods to obtain the law numbers and chapters, and I will apply for the refund on this website as the question about my rights was not answered.
However, I appreciate and thank you for your time.
I asked you a question and you sent me the pricelist for possible avenues. I had dignity to say no and to save our time.
That's exactly what did NOT happen in hospital. I asked to give me info, received no answers, provided with basic assistance (wrong diagnosis too, but it doesn't matter now) -- and sent a bill a year later. This is no business and I'm sure there are laws to protect me.
Anyway, have a great day and thank you for being honest about the charges and inability to help. Wishing you every best
Expert:  Guillermo J. Senmartin, Esq. replied 1 month ago.

And what happens if my friend responds with the list of laws that you are looking for? I already asked him and am waiting for his reply.

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
Thank you but I can see from your late replies that you don't know the customer rights laws and cannot look it up. I won couple of customer rights cases in the past and I know it's a fairy straight forward efficient path to be given the exact law chapter. Thanks and have a great day. I've requested a refund.
Expert:  Guillermo J. Senmartin, Esq. replied 1 month ago.

No problem. Good luck.