Treated like criminals


Mari • 50 years old • Real Estate Agent

Several years ago, Mari and her husband had both been dealing with simultaneous illnesses and injuries. With so much medical debt hitting them at once, they got behind on their payments. They had debts in collections and Mari always made it a point to call the debt collectors and inform them when she would send a payment and for how much.

Without prior warning or indication, a sheriff showed up at their home to arrest Mari’s husband and take him to the courthouse. The order had come from the debt collectors. Her husband had undergone back surgery a few days before and was not supposed to get out of bed. That didn’t matter. Mari and her husband were required by law to make the trip to the courthouse. This was the first and only time they had ever been arrested. They felt they were being treated like criminals despite doing their best to communicate with the debt collectors and make payments.

Those debts have long been settled and Mari’s husband has since passed away. Mari is a lot savvier when it comes to medical debt. Despite her caution, she finds herself in medical debt collections again. These days, she pays cash for medical treatments. When she explains that she’ll be paying in cash, she’s generally able to negotiate a lower price with health care providers. However, recent hospital bills are showing different prices; one reflects the price that patients with insurance usually pay and the other reflects the negotiated cash price. It appears that Mari is being double-billed by mistake. Despite the bills being disputed, even after documenting the billing errors, both the collection agency and the attorneys say there is nothing they can do and are demanding that she pay up.