Florida hospital sends debt collectors after 4-year-old child

HCA Florida Lutz Emergency didn't even treat a burn sustained by Dr. Sara McLin's 4-year-old, sending him on to another hospital. But if the kid knows what's good for him he'd better pay up. The emergency-room clinic sent the child to collections, NPR reports.

after calling the hospital to appeal, McLin said the billing department would not discuss the debt with her because the statement was in her young son's name. …

Then, in January, she received a letter from Medicredit, a collection agency and an HCA subsidiary, stating that Keeling owed $129 and that he had until mid-February to contest the debt. KHN was unable to make contact with Medicredit representatives, and HCA Healthcare did not respond to requests for comment from its subsidiary.

Once again, Sara McLin's name was not on the debt collector's letter, and she said Medicredit representatives refused to discuss the debt with her because it was in her son's name. She said she called HCA, too. "They said, 'We can't help you. We don't have the case anymore,'" she said.

This became an "error" after McLin contacted media. Suddenly it was easy for them to help. Suddenly they did have the case.

After being contacted by KHN, Aliese Polk, an Envision spokesperson, said in an email that Envision would waive the debt, apologizing to Keeling's family "for the misunderstanding." … "We recognize the patient's family may have understood at the time of treatment that there would be no charge for the visit, including the medical service provided by our physician," Polk said. "Unfortunately, this courtesy adjustment was not captured when the claim was processed."

On top of it all, the bill was an illegal "surprise bill" for which Federal law says providers may only charge co-pays. The scum of the Earth.