The Same Hospitals That Enjoy Tax-Exempt Status Hound Low-Income Patients With Aggressive Collection Efforts
A new study finds that while not every hospital sues over unpaid bills, a few sue a lot. "Hospitals were built — mostly by churches — to be a safe haven for people regardless of one's race, creed or ability to pay. Hospitals have a nonprofit status — most of them — for a reason," says Martin Makary, one of the JAMA study's authors and a surgeon and researcher at Johns Hopkins Medicine. "They're supposed to be community institutions."
The Wall Street Journal:
When Patients Can’t Pay, Many Hospitals Are Suing
Carlos Ortiz underwent tests last year at Mary Washington Hospital in Fredericksburg, Va., for dizziness that later was linked to an inner-ear problem. When the uninsured gardener couldn’t pay his bill of about $15,000, the nonprofit institution took him to court. Mary Washington Hospital and others in Virginia were suing so many other patients that day that Fredericksburg Circuit Court had cleared the docket to hear all the cases. The patients “were coming one by one in front of the judge,” said Mr. Ortiz, 65, of Locust Grove, Va. “It was sad to see how many people were going through this.” (Armour, 6/25)
Hospitals Earn Little From Suing For Unpaid Bills. For Patients, It Can Be 'Ruinous'
The Fredericksburg General District Court is a red-brick courthouse with Greek columns in a picturesque, Colonial Virginia town. A horse and carriage are usually parked outside the visitor center down the street. On a sunny morning — the second Friday in June — the first defendant at court is a young woman, Daisha Smith, 24, who arrives early; she has just come off working an overnight shift at a group home for the elderly. (Simmons-Duffin, 6/25)
In other news on health care costs —
HHS Takes Price Transparency Reins After Trump Executive Order
Hospital and insurer trade groups have allied to bash President Donald Trump's latest executive order on rate disclosures. The groups and consumer advocates are closely watching how far HHS will decide to go with its price transparency requirements, since the order itself left the details vague. In the executive order signed Monday, Trump gave the agency 60 days to write the hospital requirements on publishing "standard charge information, including charges and information based on negotiated rates and for common or shoppable items." (Luthi and Bannow, 6/25)