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Dwayne B.
Dwayne B., Lawyer
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Satisfied Customers: 33933
Experience:  Practicing for over 20 years and handled many cases and trials for consumers.
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I had a medical procedure in June,2013. It was covered by my

Customer Question

I had a medical procedure in June,2013. It was covered by my insurance , yet I received a bill for $200. I refused to pay it and it was given to a collection agency who put this collection account on my credit report. I disputed it but it still remains as a disputed item. This had an effect on my FICO score, dropping it from 795 to 726. Somehow, this collection account was placed on my spouse's credit report, lowering her FICO to 709. When she called the collection agency, she was told they put this on her credit report using the "doctrine of necessity ". It was my debt so what is this doctrine of necessity and can they use this to screw up her credit. What do we do ? If I pay the original provider the $200, will they report the payment to the credit bureaus and will this degratory item be removed from our crdit reports ??
JA: What state is this in? And when did the issue begin?
Customer: New Jersey. Since the procedure was performed in June 2013, probably that September but I'm not sure.
JA: Has anything been filed or reported?
Customer: It was reported to the credit bureaus in 2014 for me but it turned up recently on my wife's credit report
JA: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: If I just pay this $200 to the original provider not the collection agency, will this derogatory item be removed from our credit reports ?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 1 year ago.

Hello and thank you for contacting us. This is Dwayne B. and I’m an expert here and looking forward to assisting you today.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Did you have an answer to my question?
Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 1 year ago.

The doctrine of necessity applies in most medical cases but not all. It is a valid concept and what it means is that when you have a spouse who must receive treatment for a medical condition then both spouses would be responsible for the bill. However, it doesn't always apply (ex. they ask you to sign and you refuse and tell them you aren't responsible before the procedure is done) and in my opinion it wouldn't apply for all treatments (ex. cosmetic surgery that is purely for cosmetic reasons).

As to whether paying the original creditor the money will work to remove this now isn't possible to tell from the facts. Collection agencies deal with creditors in a variety of ways. Sometimes they outright buy the debt from the creditor (at a discounted amount) and other times they are just hired to collect on the amount.

Please be patient, it takes a while to type this out plus I have to look some things up occasionally.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
what is the most prudent way to proceed with this ?
Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 1 year ago.

You don't mention why you refused to pay the initial $200 but because of your wording I am assuming that it is because you felt that the insurance company paid them everything that was owed.

An option that you have, but which is expensive, is suing the medical provider for a declaratory judgment stating you don't owe the $200 plus monetary amount for the damage caused to your credit rating.

THis isn't the type of case that small claims courts handle (declaratory judgments) and it is extremely difficult to pursue one of these cases so I wouldn't recommend trying it without a lawyer.

Another option is to hire a lawyer to write a letter and see if they can get the creditor to back off and then also write to the credit reporting agency and argue that it shouldn't be on your wife's credit. The CRA shouldn't be concerned with the doctrine of necessity and shouldn't put it on your wife's credit because no court has found it is a necessity.

I'm going to post this but then I have a little more to type.

Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 1 year ago.

The easiest, least inconvenient thing to do is pay them the money, so economically it would be the most prudent thing to do. If it's the principle of the matter then you should hire a lawyer and pursue them.

After paying them, then the next most prudent thing to do (economically) is to have the lawyer write them the letters. That shouldn't cost much and may accomplish all, or a part, of what you want to accomplish. The lawyer could also threaten to file a complaint against them with the state licensing agency. You do not want to try to write a letter to them with this language because it is easy to mess up and send them a letter that can get you charged with extortion. That won't happen if the lawyer writes the letter plus he will do it in a way that it will make a good piece of evidence if you end up in court.

If your question has been answered then I'd offer my best wishes to you and ask that you please not forget to leave a Positive Rating so I receive credit for my work. Of course, please feel free to ask any follow up questions in this thread. I want to be sure that all of your questions are answered.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
thanks. I'll pay and have my attorney follow it up with the letter as you suggested. Have a nice day.
Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 1 year ago.

To you as well. I hope this works out for you, it's ridiculous people are put through this much hassle over $200 on a bill which I am sure was multiple thousands.