Waukesha woman receives recovery notice six years after routine teeth cleaning

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WAUKESHA – If you have dental insurance, you usually don’t think twice about the cost after cleaning your teeth.

Kim Costello, from Waukesha, was not only billed for her visit, but her debt was also sent to a collection agency. Costello said she didn’t even find out until six years after her appointment. Costello contacted our Call 4 Action office for advice.

In 2015, Costello had another job with another dental insurance. She also lived in another house. She told TMJ4 News that she was looking for a new dentist and found one in West Bluemound.

“I asked, do I owe something? Do I owe a copayment? No, it’s your annual cleaning, your x-rays, all that,” Costello recalls.

A statement she received from a collection agency indicates otherwise and shows a debt of $ 355.

Costello explains that what’s complicated about her billing record is that the dentist’s office where she went for her cleaning six years ago is now closed.

“It’s very confusing, and it looks like something is wrong. Something is wrong with this whole situation,” Costello said.

Caitlin Donovan, of the National Patient Advocate Foundation, says that while she can’t say for sure what happened with Costello’s case, typically when the offices close, they sell their remaining bills to an agent. recovery.

“They just want you to pay something. That’s their goal, it’s just to get money from you,” Donavan said.

Costello wrote to the collection agency to dispute the charge. This is exactly what Donovan says you should do.

“An invoice collector should give you thirty days if you dispute the invoice to prove that the invoice is real and within those thirty days he cannot contact you,” she added.

She also tells TMJ4 News that billing errors are common and patients need to know their rights.

“In Wisconsin, the statute of limitations for a medical bill would be around six years. That doesn’t mean it can’t show up on your credit report if you don’t pay it.”

Before paying anything, Costello contacts his old dental insurer for more answers.

“Maybe I’m the one being too careful, but I’m not going to do it willy-nilly, ‘Oh yeah sure, here’s $ 300, why not?'” She said.

In cases where patients decide to pay, Donovan said you can try negotiating with a collection agency for a lower amount, but it’s important to ask the agency to put in writing that your debt has been paid in. totality.

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