She had a baby and the insurance paid. Then $4,500 in medical bills were sent for collection.

Rebecca Overholt welcomed her first baby on September 20 at Jersey City Medical Center.

What he didn’t like was the medical billing mess that followed.

It started with a text from December saying she had a bill from Sheridan Children’s Healthcare Services, a provider at the hospital, which gave her a link to click. Worried that she was a scam, and knowing that her family had reached her out-of-pocket maximum for her health insurance plan, she ignored him.

The Jersey City woman then received a bill dated December 31 from Envision Physician Services, a medical billing company, for $4,579.83.

“I didn’t recognize the company and it was very clear there were duplicate charges,” Overholt said. “So now I had a paper bill on top of a text message. I still thought it was absolute nonsense.”

She said she called the billing company to ask about the bill. They determined that there had been some sort of mix-up because Overholt’s son was not properly registered with his insurance company (his Social Security number had initially been lost in the mail), but that had since been corrected.

“The first person I spoke to on the phone apologized and promised to fix it,” he said. “This seemed reasonable and I thought the matter was resolved.”

But in February another bill arrived, this time for $709.83.

“This bill had less information and just said I owed the money. No proof of presentation to my insurance, no explanation. Just the account,” he said. “Now he was angry.”

He said he called again, but this time, the automated system said Overholt owed more than $2,000.

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“The second person took back our information, said to drop any other bills and promised to fix it, and promptly hung up the phone,” Overholt said. “I calmed down, but I was suspicious, because I didn’t get any confirmation.”

Then, in the first week of April, she received a debt collection notice that listed five different charges: $176.84, $228.13, and three charges of $101.62. This was at least equal to $709.83, she said, but now she was furious.

He said he called back, and again the automated system said he owed more than $2,000.

“When I got to one person, she couldn’t get me off the phone fast enough. She said they would pay back the debt and they hung me up.” Overholt said. “She couldn’t even ask questions.”

He called the debt collector.

“They said they actually had a lot of ads for me, all of the same thing, broken up into parts,” he said. “I told them to send it back because the entire bill was a mistake.”

He then contacted his insurance company, which found that one claim was paid and no claims were denied or pending, he said.

A few days later, another debt collection notice. This time it was for $467, $571 and three charges of $299, for a total of $1,935.

“This whole thing feels like a scam and an attempt to scare me or wear me down to pay them,” he said, calling it a “predatory practice.”

He asked Bamboozled for help.

REPAIR IT

The Envision Physician Services website said it sees 130 million patients a year.

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It has a grade of “F” from the best Business Office, with 20 complaints closed in the last 12 months and 40 closed in the last three years.

We took a look at Overholt’s bills and collection notices, and asked Envision to review the case.

Before the week was out, Overholt’s phone rang.

She said someone from Envision called, apologized profusely for the mistakes, and said everything would be fixed, including the cancellation of the collection company.

“She was fumbling around trying to explain, but it seemed like multiple reports were generated for the same item, as well as an overlooked payment from the insurance company,” Overholt said. “She hinted that she maybe should still owe money, but they’re giving it up.”

We asked Envision to explain what happened.

He said the company determined that “due to a processing error, multiple accounts were set up in your name, resulting in incorrect information being communicated to you, and ultimately account balances remaining outstanding.”

The company confirmed that Overholt has a zero balance and that all invoices have been removed from collections.

“I’m relieved,” Overholt said. “And marked that they do this to new parents. It shouldn’t take five months, a journalist and a really squeaky wheel to fix this.”

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Karin Price Mueller can be contacted at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @kpmueller.