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Debt collectors visiting you in the hospital?

Posted by on Apr. 25, 2012 at 10:21 AM
  • 6 Replies
Hospital Debt Collector Puts 'The Squeeze' On Patients
SHAREEMAIL TOPICS: HEALTH COSTS, HOSPITALS, MARKETPLACE Apr 25, 2012


A report released Tuesday by the Minnesota Attorney General spotlights aggressive practices used by one of the nation's largest collectors of medical debts, including demanding payments from people seeking care in emergency rooms, cancer wards and delivery rooms.


Hospital patients waiting in an emergency room or convalescing after surgery are being confronted by an unexpected visitor: a debt collector at bedside. This and other aggressive tactics by one of the nation's largest collectors 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 (Silver-Greenberg, 4/24).


Patients at a Minnesota hospital chain were pressured for payment in the emergency room and at their bedsides by debt collectors from a company that didn't disclose its role, the state's attorney general alleges. Employees of Fairview Health Services, a nonprofit chain of seven hospitals based in Minneapolis, were required to use a computer system derisively called "Blue Balls" to track whether patients paid their bills and push for payment before they received care, Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson said. The payment system began after Fairview hired the collection agency Accretive Health Inc. (AH) in May 2010, Swanson said in a report describing the companies’ relationship (Wayne, 4/25).

A Chicago-based consultant hired by the Fairview health system pushed hospital workers to engage in overly aggressive bill collection tactics that included pressuring patients in the emergency room, according to an investigative report released Tuesday, April 24, by Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson.  Accretive Health Inc. imposed quotas on hospital personnel to collect money before treatment was provided in some cases, according to Swanson's report, and ignored concerns from some Fairview workers that the tactics were going too far. The report described Accretive's methods as being akin to those "commonly utilized in high-pressure boiler-room-style sales atmospheres" (Snowbeck, 4/24).


Fairview hospital employees used high-pressure tactics in emergency rooms, cancer units and delivery wards to try to collect money from patients before they were treated, according to a blistering report issued Tuesday by Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson. The collections strategy, designed by an Illinois consulting firm called Accretive Health, was so heavy-handed that several doctors complained it might discourage patients from seeking medical care, the report found. Swanson said the practices, uncovered during a review of Fairview's management contracts with Accretive, appear to have violated federal and state laws, including those regulating debt collection and patient privacy (Kennedy and Lerner, 4/24).


This is part of Kaiser Health News' Daily Report - a summary of health policy coverage from more than 300 news organizations. The full summary of the day's news can be found here and you can sign up for e-mail subscriptions to the Daily Report here. In addition, our staff of reporters and correspondents file original stories each day, which you can find on our home page.
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http://www.kaiserhealthnews.org/Daily-Reports/2012/April/25/hospital-debt-collector.aspx

I just heard about this today. What are your thoughts on this?
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by on Apr. 25, 2012 at 10:21 AM
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Replies (1-6):
mommy2lexinmark
by on Apr. 25, 2012 at 10:22 AM
ridiculous
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mama_grizz
by on Apr. 25, 2012 at 10:27 AM
1 mom liked this
That's definitely ridiculous. As if being sick or injured isn't stressful enough! Hell I have debt, all of it is medical, and being perfectly healthy I get extremely frazzled when I get those $20k bills in the mail saying "past due" in huge red letters. That sounds to me like unfair harrassment and I hope legal action is taken.
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dietsunkist
by on Apr. 25, 2012 at 10:30 AM
I really hope this is ended & action is taken. The economy is rough, health insurance is expensive, & all this will do is discourae people from seeking medical attention which will probably cause a lot more issues in the long run. This is horrible IMO.
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TexasWife
by on Apr. 25, 2012 at 10:34 AM

I thought that wasn't legal. I mean denying someone an er because of debts.

dietsunkist
by on Apr. 25, 2012 at 10:37 AM
I think they were just telling people that to pressure them while they were waiting, from what I understand. But the hospital staff were also being encouraged to lie to patients so in some cases they weren't being treated right away.

Quoting TexasWife:

I thought that wasn't legal. I mean denying someone an er because of debts.

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tpaangel8122
by on Apr. 25, 2012 at 10:37 AM

um, i think that would be considered harrassment. i would punch someone in the face! like i need the added stress when i'm already down.

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