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No. of Recommendations: 3
Okay, not quite that clear cut. This is largely my fault for being stupid. While waiting for the MRI center and insurance to figure out and tell me my final responsibility, I let a bill for a whopping $12 languish. I was kinda waiting for a breakdown from my insurance company (they always send one) explaining why my patient responsibility exceeded what was calculated on the day of service (I'm on a high deductible plan, so I pay the negotiated rate, no more, no less). I went ahead and paid it only once I received a final notice from the MRI center.

In the future, rather than just letting things sit (especially if it's a provider you don't deal with a lot), I would suggest calling and talking to both the provider's billing office and the insurance company to ensure (1) that the provider actually billed the insurance company and (2) that the insurance company has received the bill and is processing it. When you talk to the provider's billing office, you can tell them that you are waiting to get the EOB from your insurance company prior to paying the bill. When you talk to the insurance company, you can ask how long it will be until they have processed the claim, and if they already have - when they sent the EOB, and if it was a while ago, ask them for a duplicate EOB (things still do get lost in the mail), or if there is someplace for you to see it online.

So now I need to deal with the collection agency. I know I have 30 days from receipt of the collection notice to respond, in writing. Should I simply ask them to verify the debt? Does that inquiry actually trigger them to contact the creditor, or would they simply look at their own records and reply - "Yep, it's valid"? Or, should I wait until I get the final statement from the MRI center, and include a copy of that with my letter? Is there any point to contact them via phone, or is that opening up a can of worms I'm better off avoiding?

As Joel already said, the late payment should not show on your credit report since it's a medical bill. That said, I would check at free credit reporting sites (CreditKarma, Quizzle, possibly your bank, CU or credit card, etc.) several times over the next 6 months or so to be sure it doesn't. If it does, be sure to dispute it. You can also check all 3 of your credit reports once a year at

In addition to writing back to the collection agency, you could also contact the MRI center's billing office and ask them when they will be telling the collection agency that you have paid the bill.

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