Last updateTue, 15 Jul 2014 3pm
Armando's Hideaway

Legal pointers: Unpaid hospital bills and debt collectors

In a recent interview Chapala attorney Spencer McMullen offered advice on how area residents can plan avoid insurance and hospital payment problems by carefully planning for an eventual illness or hospitalization.

In last week’ edition of the Reporter McMullen related vital checkpoints so that residents can check their health insurance policies to be certain they are fully aware of the benefits available to them and of costs for which they may find they are responsible.

Additionally, he ticked off a list of four Mexican and Jalisco governmental agencies which may come into play when problems arise due to over-billing or false billing following hospitalization. For example, if the hospital bill reveals double billing for certain items, or outrageous costs for simple items – as in one case, the equivalent of 20 dollars for an aspirin – patients and their families should leave the hospital without paying the bill and immediately file a complaint against the hospital with Mexico’s Federal Consumer Protection Agency (Profeco, www.profeco.gob.mx). There is a time limit of nine business days for filing a complaint.

McMullen pointed out in the first part of this article it is against the law for the hospital to refuse to allow a patient to leave the hospital before the bill is paid in full. This possibility strikes fear in the hearts of the hospitalized and their loved ones, who believe the convincingly presented threats. “This solution is simple,” he said. “If the hospital says the patient (and his or her friends) can not leave the building, immediately call the police and report that are you are being held hostage, in a kidnapping attempt. Then pick up any belongings and walk out the door. It is absolutely against the law for them to hold a patient, or the remains of the deceased until payment is made.”

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