Medical Debt

I’m Being Sued by the Attorney General’s Office Over Debt

Written by Steve Rhode

Question:

Dear Steve,

I have some debt that was sent to collections with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.

Like the debt with the Department of Mental Health, most of this debt shouldn’t have been billed because number one, I was homeless at the time, and I was on Medicaid.

I also had other debt, like with Ohio State, that was sent to the OAG. I was having serious financial difficulties, and contrary to what I was told, my debt with Ohio State wasn’t discharged in my bankruptcy. Despite having met the Brunner test requirements, I was never able to have my student loan debt discharged.

I tried for years, literally 2 to 4 years, to work something out with Ohio State, and they refused.

Now the debt they sent to OAG has since accrued collection fees, which I refuse to pay. I refuse to pay them anything at all because they refused to work with me, so as far as I’m concerned, they are entitled to nothing.

I want to sue Ohio State University and the State of Ohio for their unfair collection practices.

What is the first step I need to take to eliminate this debt?

Paying them is not an option; I refuse to pay them so much as a dime. They had their chance, and they blew it.

So what other options do I have?

Shannon

Answer:

Dear Shannon,

I can certainly understand how frustrating this is. At some point, it just becomes too much to deal with. But rather than giving up trying to resolve it, you’d be much better off taking a brief holiday from dealing with it but get back at it.

The Ohio Attorney General’s Office is responsible for “collecting outstanding debt owed to the State of Ohio for state agencies, institutions, boards, commissions, public university and hospitals, and local government entities.” – Source

Fighting with the OAG Collections Enforcement people is not going to be the best approach. They are just pushing the paper they were passed. If you want to call them and discuss the matter, call 888-301-8885.

To eliminate these problems, we need to tackle the underlying events that triggered the debt.

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Debt for Mental Health Services

Many people have the wrong impression when it comes to insurance. Medicaid is a form of insurance.

When someone goes to visit a medical provider, the patient is ultimately responsible for all the charges. Now, the provider may decide to make the claim submission for the patient and then accept what the insurance company pays as payment in full. However, a medical provider can also elect to bill the patient in full, and the patient then has to deal with the insurance company and get paid back.

It is getting more and more complicated for a provider to submit a claim to an insurance company. Here is what Ohio Medicaid providers have to deal with.

Given the complexity of claim submission, it is easy to understand how a checkbox might be missed or a code entered incorrectly, leading to claim denial.

To attempt to go back and find out why the original claim was denied or rejected, you can call the Ohio Department of Medicaid Consumer Hotline at 800-324-8680 and/or fill out their contact form here. I would vote to call and speak to someone.

Once you can discover exactly why your claim was rejected, then you’ve got a better shot at getting the situation rectified.

All insurance policies have a description of what they will and won’t pay for. You can read what the Ohio Medicaid program will cover for mental health services if you click here.

Any services provided that exceed the limits of coverage will wind up being the responsibility of the patient.

Debt for Ohio State University Debt

You mentioned that you filed bankruptcy and included your debt generated by attendance at Ohio State University. It is unclear if you have federal or private student loans. You mentioned that you felt you met the Brunner Test requirements to have your debt discharged. This is a subject I have written about extensively, see these posts.

Even though you might have met those undue hardship standards, it is unlikely that your debt was discharged without filing an Adversary Proceeding and asking the court to rule on the discharge specifically.

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If this was private student loan debt, it could still expire from the lender taking legal action against you when it exceeds the Ohio Statute of Limitations. But as you can imagine, these issues are complex and nuanced legal subjects. Only an attorney licensed in the State of Ohio can provide you with a legal opinion. You can find such an attorney here.

There are typically easy to discharge school-related debts that can be included in a bankruptcy. These include things like a debt owed to a school but not for tuition. When a school refuses to release a transcript, that is a debt that can be eliminated in bankruptcy without much fuss and allow the transcript to be released.

Private student loan lenders have fought bankruptcy discharge for consumers that appear to be eligible. See this post on the topic.

What You Need Now

As painfully frustrating as it is, the best course of action here is to understand better what the debts are that are claimed. The Ohio State school debt needs much more information before figuring out what is ultimately going on here.

If this were either private or federal student loans, then Ohio State would have nothing to do with collecting the debt. The debt holder would be the one attempting collection.

One alternative is the debt owed to Ohio State may be University Aid, “The Long-Term University Loan and Short-Term University Assistance are administered by Ohio State to assist with temporary financial difficulty or extenuating circumstances and are not intended to serve as a sustainable method of funding educational costs.” – Source

I typically see people get so frustrated by the entire situation that they give up. Don’t do that. Go back and fight for facts and try your hardest to put your emotional frustration aside.


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About the author

Steve Rhode

Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.

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