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Subject:  Re: I have a collection!!! Date:  10/5/2003  12:58 AM
Author:  joelcorley Number:  171093 of 312189


You wrote, Unfortunately, married couples do have a legal duty of care to each other when it comes to medical issues. Which means that if one spouse does not pay, the medical provider does have the right to go after the other spouse for payment.

I hang out on the board (Martindale's). They have a TX corner - you should go have a read sometime, it's an eye opener. Anyway, there's a post on the Divorce board at the moment, from someone who is not divorced and who is worried about cancellation of her health insurance by her husband before they divorce.... one of the lawyers on the board told her to tell her husband that if he did that, and she needed medical attention and ran up a $10K bill, he'd be on the hook if she couldn't pay. Might make him think twice about cancelling the insurance. Now, that is not exactly your situation I know. But the point was made that both spouses are jointly liable to pay the medical expenses of one of them, under the duty of care that spouses legally have for each other up until the marriage is dissolved. I think that point does apply to your case too.

I agree 100% that so long as I'm married to her I have an obligation to help her obtain and pay for medical care. I'm trying to be reasonable about it. The problem is that the obligation you're talking about is between my XSO and me. The fact that I have such an obligation to her doesn't establish any contractual obligation between her medical providers and me. As such, they do not have the same rights to collect against me as they do against her -- my other speculations aside.

Shoot, this isn't even an issue over the money really. If it came down to a collection on a medical bill, I probably would have relented and loaned (or given) her the cash. $83 just isn't that much money. Certainly it's not worth the hassle this is going to put me through. Besides the problem here seems to be that neither my XSO nor the provider did proper diligence. My XSO never made sure the provider was paid -- and arguably with a PPO she shouldn't have to -- and the provider apparently never confirmed her contact and insurance information.

Wow. I never thought about that. If this was from a doctor's visit, I bet they never got her to sign anything... If they had, they probably would have also gotten updated information. After all, with most doctor's visits I have they make me confirm my insurance and contact information on every visit. Also, they usually confirm my insurance benefits with the insurance company at least before the visit is complete to make sure the insurance is current. If this was an office visit, I bet they did none of that and just asked her for her co-pay. Likely she paid that with cash or a check.

Of course that doesn't relieve her of the contractual obligation -- she accepted the services rendered -- but without some kind of signed contract, it should be almost impossible for the CA to validate the obligation with a CRA. Hum. Of course even with a signed contract, the CRA shouldn't accept my XSO's signature as proof of a valid contract between the provider and myself.

Anyway, this is all speculation. I'll know more next week. I'll keep you posted.

- Joel
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