5 year old unpaid medical bill – any risks to chasing this up?

6 posts in this topic

TLDR: I have an old, unpaid medical bill from over 5 years ago. I received an initial invoice, but no further communication. Should I chase it up?

 

Early in 2017, I was brand new in Berlin, and still using my EHIC. I ended up at A&E, was in a fairly confused state (before I understood German), and completed the forms I needed to get treatment. At the time, I didn't yet have a permanent residence in Berlin. So a 100€ invoice from Vivantes was sent to my old address in the UK, and my UK landlady forwarded it to me.  

 

In the letter, I was confused by (1) having to pay an invoice when I supplied an EHIC, and (2) what to do with a form included in the letter, which years later I now know was just a SEPA mandate. For this reason, I wrote to the contact email on the letter for clarification. They never replied. 

 

My landlady sold her flat soon after, so I never received any further communication following the initial invoice. I also see the details on the letter are wrong (name misspelt, wrong gender). And they have never tracked me down in Germany.

 

To this day, I haven't paid.
(I am not proud of this. It is, to put it simply, a stupid mistake.)

 

I would like to get this issue off my mind. I don't mind paying (with 5 years interest at 5% it should be around 135€). But to be honest I'm worried that I don't understand the legal consequences of any of this.

 

My questions:

  • Aside from paying the fee, are there any risks to chasing up my own unpaid invoice, to get the updated fee and pay it?
  • Could paying the bill (ironically) have a negative effect on my SCHUFA, if they connect the dots in the process?
  • I read there is a 3 year limitation period – does this appear to my healthcare invoice, and if so, do I need to do anything at all?
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I had two similar instances and know of one from a friend. I orginally had the old form E128? guaranteeing reciprocal care, living here as a student, way before brexit, which then qualified to use a public insurance like aok or similar, but I think this was before the Ehic cards. I once had a bill after ending AOK membership from the red cross. it chased me around for several years even after moving flats. Since Brexit I am not even sure if EHIC cards are valid here anymore. I think you if you have a residence permit you and are allowed to work you need to register with a public health care simply. Regarding old bills, unfortunately since you have to register your address each time you move with the "authorities" (something you dont have to do in the US or UK) and despite all the EU data protection laws, somehow they can get your address which seems to me a breach of privacy. Anyhow they kept sending letters for a few years which luckily stopped at one point, but I had bad credit then anyway so it might not have mattered. However its not always so lucky, even a fitness company where I said I cancelled the contract kept chasing me and even found my new address and froze my account even though I was ill, and couldn't train anymore. And on the other hand from a colleague who spent some time in the UK to study he was confronted with 6 months worth of unpaid medical insurance bills, he apparently was unable to obtain an EHIC card and fill out a form similar to E129 but I think his main mistake was not to deregister when he left Germany. So if you can somehow show proof that you were outside the country it might work, but they are stricter here and if they chase it long enough they can get a gerichtsvollzieher (collector) who can get a court order to commandeer your bank account - that is freeze it until you pay. If you have no money in the account and aren't worried about having bad credit for like 3 years you might be able to live with it, but then you can only get another bank account with no line of credit or credit card, only positive balances. Another option though is to try to get an online virtual account in a neighbor country like Holland and keep your savings there at least, since its difficult for them to find or commandeer those, but if its a German account they will probably find it and freeze it if you dont pay. In a worst case they could even garnish wages if they know where you work but they would try the bank freeze first and garnishing is probably rare havent hear of it happening tbh

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After 5 years I have absolutely no sign they've been able to track me down. No impact on German or UK bank accounts. I'm skeptical they are even trying, maybe the amount is too small for them to care?

 

As I say, I'd like to follow up with Vivantes and pay it, I just worry this is somehow opening Pandora's box :lol: and maybe this situation is just better left alone?

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Almost everything is reported to Schufa I think, but not sure how long it stays. For small bills under a 100 Euros the collection letters sometimes putter out. Its mostly the bigger collections for hundreds or thousands of Euros where you risk bank freezes and court jugdments (and where you get collection letters especially those for Vollstreckung, where you have the option to say you dispute it, but then have to appear in court to challenge it). You could test your credit by trying to apply for a mobile phone with a monthly contract at a vodafone or tmobile shop - if you qualify you have good credit 'bonität' if not its probably already on your schufa. Or try to get a new bank account with a line of credit ('dispo') since its never bad to have 2 bank accounts. If you qualify your ok. If not its probably better to pay the bill with late fees and it might disappear sooner from your record. A friend paid a peek and cloppenburg bill once several months late for only 29 euros, but he didnt pay the late fees and he is still getting letters trying to collect the late fees which amount to more than the original bill ? like 60 euro? wt* ;)

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I have a good SCHUFA score, though. If it was reported to them, it doesn't seem to have impacted my score much at all.

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