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Subject:  Re: I have a collection!!! Date:  10/6/2003  4:56 PM
Author:  joelcorley Number:  171153 of 312189


You wrote, In the eyes of the CRA and the collection agency, it is his debt, because the medical insurance account is under his name and social security number. He is the only one able to make additions, deletions and changes to the account, so he is solely liable for the usage of said account. It is very much like a spouse using your credit card as an authorized user. It's your account, and you allow others to use it. But you're responsible for whatever they do with it - not them - ever. If you want to hold them responsible, you need to sue them. And how often do people sue their own spouse (separations excluded)?

You're analogy is flawed. Suppose my XSO and I have a joint credit card account. Imagine she makes a mail-order purchase and they ship the product before receiving an authorization. If the authorization is refused, the fact that my name is on the account doesn't make me liable for the purchase. Their only recourse is against her.

If I'm a joint account holder on a card, the only liability for any purchases made is between the credit card company and myself. If the credit card company refuses the purchase, I have no obligation -- but my spouse (joint account holder) might have one if she received the merchandise or service.

The logic should apply to insurance. The fact that my employer or I paid the premiums doesn't automagically make me liable for her use of it. If my son, who is 18, goes out and has some elective surgery done and uses my insurance, am I also liable? (He is also covered on my insurance.) I don't think so. The same is true of my wife.

The fact of the matter is that my account with the insurance company only establishes a liability to the insurance company to the extent of the cost of the premiums. The insurance company in turn, by taking the premiums, has created an obligation to pay for and defend me against certain claims against my person and property.

My XSO by accepting the services rendered by this currently unknown provider has established an obligation to the provider. Providing them with my personal information does not establish such an obligation between them and me. Providing them with her insurance information also does not establish that obligation. The fact that she is still legally my spouse does establish an obligation; but that does not confer any rights to her medical providers -- it only provides her with the right to recover some of her expenses from me herself. Arguably I'm meeting my obligation by providing her with paid and effective insurance coverage. She has apparently failed to meet her obligation to the provider; but the provider has apparently decided to hire a collection agency that has chosen to try to extort me for these funds.

Had they simply done a public records search and contacted me first, the collection agency could have avoided all this nastiness. Given the small amount of the claim, they probably didn't feel it was worth the cost of a records search; but I think it more likely that this is just how they do business -- ruin you, then ask questions later.

Well, they would get paid if they'd just asked me about this nicely first. Unfortunately, they're 1) Technically in the wrong here and 2) They've already wasted the only trump card (leverage) in their hand. At this point, there's nothing more they can do to encourage me to pay this collection. Why? Because if they sue, I know I'll win. And because I also know that if they don't remove the notation entirely from my report, paying it off will be the same thing as admitting to the obligation -- guaranteeing that it will remain for the next 7 years, doing almost as much damage as an unpaid collection.

I find the options they've given me are untenable, so I plan to fight -- in court if I have to.

- Joel
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