The state's seemingly perpetual budget woes didn't cause Arup Das' health scare, but they did leave an ugly mark on his credit history.
Das, a former pathology teacher at the University of Illinois at Chicago, suffered a heart attack in 2008 that led to open-heart surgery.
He is fully recovered physically. But the Lombard resident has experienced lingering financial pain due to the slate's slow payment.
In May 2008 Das was insured through the Illinois Quality Care Health Plan, which was behind on its payments. It took the state more than a year to pay his hospital bills.
Some of his medical providers were patient. Others weren't.
On March 15, 2009, DuPage Emergency Physicians sent Das a letter emblazoned with large red letters that said "FINAL NOTICE." The letter informed him he owed $1,243, payable immediately.
"Your account is seriously past due," the letter said. "If payment arrangements are not made promptly, your account will be referred to a collection agency to secure payment."
Das' wife, Sumitra Das, said she called DuPage Emergency Physicians at the time, explained the situation, and was told the account would not be sent to collections.
A short time later, Das received a letter from a collection agency, dated March 27, 2009, demanding payment.
Sumitra Das said she called both the collection agency and the physicians' office and again was told not to worry.
In August 2009, the state finally paid DuPage Emergency Physicians, and the Dases thought everything was fine.
It wasn't until a year later, when the couple checked its credit history with TransUnion, that they discovered DuPage Emergency Physicians had reported the payment as late.
Sumitra Das said she wrote to TransUnion and asked for the notation to be removed, but the credit agency refused.
Three years later, the negative mark remained on her husband's credit report, where it was scheduled to remain until July 2015.
Feeling the credit blemish was unfair, Sumitra Das emailed What's Your Problem?
She said the situation should have been taken care of years ago.
"I talked to these people and I thought it was all resolved," she said.
Sumitra Das said she does not begrudge DuPage Emergency Physicians for seeking payment, but said the group knew the state was having problems paying and should not have sent her husband to collections under that circumstance.
She said DuPage Emergency Physicians is the only office that pursued payment so aggressively.
"He had to have treatment from a lot of doctors," she said. "Nobody else sent it to a collection agency."
The Problem Solver contacted Katie Watkins, manager of customer service for Millennium Medical Management Resources Inc., which handles billing for DuPage Emergency Physicians Ltd.
Watkins said she couldn't discuss the Dases' situation due to privacy concerns, but within a day, Sumitra Das received a call saying the negative mark would be removed within 60 days.
Watkins said her company tries to help patients in such situations.
"We are more than happy to resolve those issues when we are contacted by (the customer)," Watkins said.
Sumitra Das said she's happy to have the blemish removed.
"It was bothering me, so I feel good," she said. "I should have called you before."