is it true?

@Trace86 (5033)
United States
August 6, 2007 3:02pm CST
My stepson asked me a question today and I am not sure of the answer. He got a bill from the hospital many months ago for a visit he made to their er last fall. He was there for a few hours. He didn't pay the bill because he doesn't have a job or money. Recently he got another bill that was for way more than the original bill. He talked to someone there and they said he had been in the hospital for 2 days. He wasn't there for two days! On to the question. Someone told him to send in the original bill and that amount and write "paid in full" in the memo section and that if they cashed it, he didn't owe them anymore. Is this legal and true?
2 people like this
6 responses
@myjunk (22)
• United States
6 Aug 07
When you pay a bill and write on your check "paid in full" and the party to whom the check was wrote cashes it , then they are accepting that it is paid in full. Therefore being a legal document it is legal and also true.
3 people like this
@mrsbrian (1951)
• United States
6 Aug 07
that is not always the case depends on where you are I believe. in some cases it may work but it didnt work for me ,however most hospitals have a hardship form that your s/s can fillout claiming hardship and that he cant pay it, call the hospital and ask for a hardship form to be mailed to you that should clear it up for him.
2 people like this
@drannhh (15240)
• United States
6 Aug 07
Yes, going to the hospital to get the billing corrected and then asking them what kind of assistance they might have for people unable to pay the full amount is the best plan.
1 person likes this
@Eskimo (2317)
7 Aug 07
The problem with just ignoring bills is that other costs can then be added to it, you sometimes find that some bills give a discount if paid within a specified time (although this may not be mentioned on the bill). I don't know how hospitals work in the U.S. but I imagine that most are run as businesses so require payment from their patients otherwise they just won't be able to continue working. I would have thought that they would have a hardship fund which would help pay for some of the treatment, but again if that is the case then application would need to have been made at the time. It looks like the hospital has been patient waiting to be paid. I don't think that just writing 'paid in full' on a cheque would have any leagal standing, but you would need advice from a lawyer for that (which would probably cost more than the original hospital bill).
2 people like this
@emeraldisle (13145)
• United States
7 Aug 07
The memo section on a check is for your records only. It is not recognized as a legal statement. Accepting and cashing the check even if you put paid in full on there does not mean the company will not still be owed money if money is owed. What he needs to do is contact them giving them the invoice numbers on both bills and showing that he was only there for a couple of hours. He needs to explain that he is without a job at this time and without insurance. He can ask if they have something that will due to financial need remove what is owed. It might not help with any outside bills (IE Doctors here charge separately for ER visits then the hospital) but it should take care of the ER visit.
@drannhh (15240)
• United States
6 Aug 07
Few people on myLot are qualified to give a legal opinion, but common sense should dictate that writing "paid in full" in the memo section of a check is NOT a good solution to the problem. Why? Because your stepson would be acting in bad faith. The idea of trying to avoid paying a debt in this way comes from an Urban Legend and if you are interested in a full explanation, there is a wonderful web site that explains this and many other fascinating Urban Legends: http://www.snopes.com/business/bank/paidfull.asp Enjoy!
@Trace86 (5033)
• United States
6 Aug 07
I don't think it is bad faith because he intends to pay the original correct amount.
@drannhh (15240)
• United States
6 Aug 07
Unfortunately, though, the police might think it was bad faith if the hospital decided to prosecute someone for check fraud. It might be different where you live, but the courts usually judge by a person's actions rather than their intentions. All that doesn't seem very likely, but I sure wouldn't take a chance on it.
@KrisNY (7591)
• United States
13 Aug 07
I’m not sure- I think when you cash a check that is paid in full- you are accepting payment and closing the case- I know here at work we do not accept any checks that say Paid in full ever- and ours banks are instructed to not allow these either. Can’t he prove that he was only there for 2 hours? I’d take the first bill to the hospital to pay- and then fight it out with them- they would have to prove that he was there for 2 days- I think taking it in and talking with them would be easier than hoping they cash it and it closes the bill- He wouldn’t want them to send it to collections!