Family in shock after receiving a $10k, 26-year-old medical bill

A North Dakota family is in disbelief after receiving a roughly $10,000, 26-year-old medical bill in their deceased mother's name, according to the Jamestown Sun.

Michelle Thompson received the bill from Jamestown-based North Dakota State Hospital a month after her mother, Amelia Thompson, passed away. The bill states that one of Amelia Thompson's 13 children, Jackie Thompson, received care at the hospital in 1986 and now that her mother passed away, the money must be paid from Amelia Thompson's remaining estate.

"How can they sit on a bill for 26 years? ... Hospitals can't do that, just let their bills float around and wait until the person passes away and if they have some land, go after them," Michelle Thompson told the Jamestown Sun.

Adam Wogsland, an attorney from Fargo, N.D., explained that hospitals and the state of North Dakota can recover debt by going after a deceased individual's estate; it is called "estate recovery."

Since North Dakota paid for Jackie Thompson's hospital visit, the debt must be repaid to the state and hospital.

"Under state law, if medical assistance has been granted and paid out by the estate, the state has the ability to recover that amount," said Mr. Wogsland.

Michelle Thompson plans on fighting the bill in court.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated Jamestown Regional Medical Center sent the hospital bill. We regret this error.

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