What to do if the dentist insists I pay more money than the amount they estimated before surgery?

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What to do if the dentist insists I pay more money than the amount they estimated before surgery?

I had a wisdom teeth extraction and signed a treatment estimate for $950 before the surgery. However, after the surgery, they sent me a bill and asked me to pay $1500. I emailed them the copy of cost estimation but they insisted that I have to pay $1500 because they said they made a mistake in that estimate. I paid the $950 but do I have to pay the extra money? If I refuse to pay more, how should I talk to the hospital or should I just ignore the bills? What if the hospital decide to sue me for the extra money? Will I end up paying more for the legal fees?

Asked on April 16, 2012 under Bankruptcy Law, New York

Answers:

Richard Southard / Law Office of Richard Southard

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

An estimate is just that... they are estimating what they expect the fees to be based on the information that they have at the time.  If somethiing happens in the procedure that is unexpected, the estimate may be too low.  Your first option is to try and call the hospital and seek to negotiate the bll. 

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

The issue will largely turn on whether the "estimate" was in fact an agreement to do the treatment for that amount (e.g. was a it a "firm" price quote or proposal), in which case it, like any other contract is enforceable, and you'd only need  to pay that amount; or whether it was simply a good faith estimate to give you an idea of what it might cost, but stated somewhere on it that the estimate was not binding or  the price subject to change--in that case, that the hospital might have grounds to seek the additional cost. Therefore, the first thing to do is to double check what the estimate, any service agreement, and any other documentation stated.

Even if the estimate was not a firm one, if you could show that it was deliberately to low, in order to get you to agree to the procedure, that might be consummer fraud and provide a basis for not paying the extra or even seeking monetary compensation--though as you can imagein, this can be very difficult to show.


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