6

Back in 2017 I visited Ireland and utilized the emergency room for a minor medical issue over at St. Vincents in Dublin. Upon leaving I was told that I was "all set" and no bill was incured.

However many many months (now over 2 years ago) later I received a few voicemails from a collections agency in Ireland looking to collect a debt for this hospital visit. I never paid the debt as I thought it was erroneously charged to me.

I'm hoping to travel to Ireland this fall and I'm now wondering if this will create a situation in which I'm denied entry to the country. Is this possible or am I making a mountain out of a mole hill?

Happy to pay the debt but I have no idea where to start.

  • 1
    I will try doing that but my main concern is being denied entry due to this issue in the event that I'm unable to resolve it before hand – Nostromo Jun 26 at 13:09
  • 1
    Where are you coming from? what is your passport? how are you getting there? – Oscar Bravo Jun 26 at 13:25
  • 3
    Perhaps stvincents.ie/contact-us. Frankly I am a little surprised that they involved a collections agency, I would verify with the hospital first. Sounds a bit like a scam to me. – copper.hat Jun 27 at 7:06
  • 4
    I'm confused. In the question you 'have no idea where to start', and in an early comment you've 'lost the letter', yet an hour later you 'ended up paying the bill'. Why do I get the feeling there's something you're not telling us? – user105640 Jun 27 at 8:14
  • 1
    @Arthur’s Pass. Also, in the question they left OP a voicemail, but in the comments he lost a letter they sent. – Darren Jun 27 at 11:47
14

I can't say whether you're likely to be denied entry to Ireland, but if a debt is due you should really pay it. Fortunately, it should only take a short while to confirm the details, and payment can usually be sorted out within a couple of days.

Call the hospital's main phone number. Explain the problem to whoever answers the phone and they should be able connect you to the right department.

They'll be able to confirm the amount of the outstanding debt, if any, and may be able to take payment by credit card immediately, or advise how to pay.

Since the debt has apparently been passed to a debt collection agency you might have to deal with them. The hospital can tell you exactly who and should be able to give you contact details. Call the agency and discuss payment arrangements.

International payments are trivially easy. If you can't pay by credit card, a call to your bank in the US should get you the information you need to send the money that way.

A word of warning: this could be a scam. Talk to the hospital first, and if you do send money, use a traceable system like the banks. Don't use Western Union!

| improve this answer | |
  • "International payments are trivially easy" - uhhhh... well, not from the US they aren't. There's a lot of form-filling I have to do with my US bank to use SWIFT/IBAN, and I don't think hospitals and legitimate collections agencies will accept PayPal or Western Union. – Dai Jun 27 at 20:25
  • @dai The OP seems to have gone from having no idea where to start to paying the bill in about an hour, so it can't be that difficult. – user105640 Jun 27 at 21:19
4

Ireland has a similar but not exact legal system as the UK. The Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) deals broadly with criminal code whilst the description of your circumstance would fit within the civil code. Criminal law essentially relates to offences and breaches that negatively affect society as a whole, rather than just one person.

Civil code deals with disputes between companies, organisations, individuals, etc It's highly unlikely that INIS would be aware of your circumstance or predicament with the hospital bill unless you were applying for naturalisation. Only then would they want to know if you are a good citizen and would request your file (if any) in the civil courts in order to make a decision.

The issuance of visas are straight forward as INIS follows their own guidelines and they don't involve third parties. A good example is a case where a woman reported her husband (CEO of a company) to have an affair with a lady (foreign alien) who was working for his company. Her permit was renewed despite the allegation.

If you have had your debt for a while, just know that after six years have passed, your debt may be declared statute barred - this means that the debt still very much exists but a CCJ cannot be issued to retrieve the amount owed and the lender cannot go through the courts to chase you for the debt.

The CCJ may still reflect negatively on your credit score and lenders may be unwilling to lend or offer a mortgage. If you owe the debt, I recommend that you pay it.

| improve this answer | |
  • Thank you for the insightful answer! – Nostromo Jun 29 at 17:26
  • No worries, don't mention :-) – Stinger Jun 30 at 7:16

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.