Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Ugh... I thought this was already handled.

So, I got a call from a debt collector about a $20.00 amount that was still not paid in full from this spring. I had set up a payment plan with the medical company and this was the amount that was due to get paid that same month. It's obnoxious to me that they would agree to a payment plan and still send it to a collector, but whatever. I paid the $20.00 when I originally agreed to pay the $20.00. With an explanation to the debt collector that I was making payments over the payment to take advantage of HSA funds which weren't going to get distributed until x date.

They wanted to know, well what about the money you still owe us from 2008? Why aren't you paying that.

Well, to be honest. I thought I had paid it all off by 2010. It took two years because it was on top of the almost $50,000 in medical debt piled up between 2004 and 2008. But I thought I had paid everyone back fully.

I had received NO NOTIFICATION of any unpaid debt since 2009. Three full years without any calls, without any mail, nothing.

So, when they called (this was about eight weeks ago). I told them that I thought I had paid off all debts years ago and that if they wanted anything from me, they would need to provide written documentation so I can verify that it was or was not paid.

They sent me nothing.

They called again about three weeks ago wanting a payment. They said they didn't understand that I had requested written documentation from them. So, I repeated my request. As far as I'm concerned. If you can't document what I owe you - then I'm pretty sure you can't collect on a dime.

So, they finally sent me something this week. Almost $1000 of medical expenses. I can confirm the expenses were the expenses that went to collections in 2008.

Now, to start digging through my records to try to identify if I've actually paid anything on these accounts. That might take some time... and my fear is that I simply paid the noisy wheel collectors and had forgotten about these accounts. At the time I was paying off these debts I had closed all checking accounts so that they couldn't be garnished and lived check-to-check and used money orders to pay my debts. I've kept all those money orders (along with all the stubs for rent, etc).... hence, it's gonna take some time to find anything (if it exists).

If I can't find those payments... my plan is to set up a payment plan of $100/month... and hope that I can use my tax refund to pay off the remainder at that time. Yuck. Absolute YUCK. Everytime you think you're getting ahead, getting to the point where things are 'handled' something like this comes up and makes you just want to scream.

I was talking about this to a co-worker yesterday. Because I had been given a couple of job descriptions from a recruiter even though I'm not seriously looking for another job... I've learned that it pays to ask questions before you out-right state that you're not interested. Sometimes an ideal opportunity is out there and if you say no before you look, you're only screwing yourself. It pays to be aware. If I find out those opportunites aren't ideal, I don't have to take them any further. Anyway, these opportunities would all be lower wage. I never considered my current employer to be one of the higher salaries in the area in this field... but am starting to think that as much as I complain over not having gotten a raise in the past three years, apparently, I'm still making more than some of the current opportunities out there.

That said. I don't know how people do it on a lesser salary. I seriously don't. I know I have some expenses I could cut (i.e., cable)... but it brings me 90% of my entertainment every month and there are several things I would miss if I cut it. I could drop my data plan from my cell phone. But I use it for a great deal on my traveling, researching things while on the road and just every day for things like the turn-by-turn directions, getting phone numbers to call if I'm running late, etc. 

But we cut back on so many other things - like clothing expenses, traveling, eating out, I can go years between seeing a movie in the theater, I've stopped going to any live performances, etc. etc. And as it is I can barely afford medical care, let alone trying to figure out how the heck I'm going to pay for the major dental care coming up. I don't know how families do it these days.

Her explanation? If you don't get sick, it's not an issue. And the folks that have gotten sick are in the same boat as I am. Obama care (which I'm in favor of) or not, getting sick and having health issues that aren't straight forward are destroying folks financial worlds.

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