I recently read and article featured on The New York Times , that just shocked me to what length’s debt collector’s are willing to go to collect debt’s, while you’re seeking treatment at the ER. Hospital patients waiting in an emergency room or convalescing after surgery are being confronted by an unexpected visitor: a debt collector at their beside, urging them to pay past due bills or seeking emergency care somewhere else.
Here is a outline from the full article:
This an other aggressive tactics by one of the nation’s largest collector’s of medical debts, Accretive Health , were revealed on Tuesday by the Minnesota attorney general , raising concerns that such practices have become common at hospitals across the country.
Tactics, like embedding debt collectors as employees in emergency rooms and demanding that patients pay before receiving treatment, were outlined in hundreds of company documents released by the attorney general’s office.
This is just the beginning of what some companies will do to collect delinquent debt’s, that is just the tip of the iceberg.
To patients, the debt collectors may look indistinguishable from hospital employees, may demand they pay outstanding bills and may discourage them from seeking emergency care at all, even using scripts like those in collection boiler rooms, according to the documents and employees interviewed by The New York Times.
In some cases, the company’s workers had access to health information while persuading patients to pay overdue bills, possibly in violation of federal privacy laws, the documents indicate.
According to this article, it states that although the attorney general has not brought actions against the debt collection company, there is however discussions with state and federal regulators about a coordinated response to Accretive Health’s practices across the country. Further in the article it state what is currently being done to elevate the situation.
Regulators in Illinois are watching the development closely, according to a spokeswoman with the State Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.
A spokeswoman from Accretive declined to comment on whether other states were looking into its practice and issued a brief statement,
In its annual report, the company said it was cooperating with the attorney general to resolve the issues in Minnesota.
As hospitals struggle under a glut of unpaid bills, they are reaching out to companies like Accretive that specialize in collecting medical bills.
Hospitals have long hired outside collection agencies to pursue patients after they have left hospital facilities. But financial pressures are altering the collection landscape so that they are letting collections firms in the front door, according to a policy adviser for the American Hospital Association, which is a trade group.
An executive director of Health Access California, a consumer advocacy coalition.
Still, hospitals are in a bind. The more than 5,000 community hospitals in the United States provided $39.3 billion in uncompensated care – predominately unpaid patient debts or charity care – in 2010, up 16 percent from 2007, the hospital association estimated.
I know we have a problem with hospitals being expected to treat patients with no expectation of payment. But using tactics to deflect a patient out who needs urgent care is unlawful, plain and simple. Leave a comment to let me know what you think about hospital’s using this type of debt collection practices.