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NYT: With Medical Bills Skyrocketing, More Hospitals Are Suing for Payment

Rei no Otaku

The Fallen
Oct 25, 2017
1,227
Cranston RI
I searched, but didn't see a thread.
WISE, Va. — When a judge hears civil cases at the courthouse in this southwest Virginia town two days a month, many of the lawsuits have a common plaintiff: the local hospital, Ballad Health, suing patients over unpaid medical bills.
On a Thursday in August, 102 of the 160 cases on the docket were brought by Ballad. Among the defendants were a schoolteacher, a correctional officer, a stay-at-home mother and even a Ballad employee — all of whom had private insurance but were still responsible for a large share of their bill, the result of large deductibles and co-payments.
Ballad, which operates the only hospital in Wise County and 20 others in Virginia and Tennessee, filed more than 6,700 medical debt lawsuits against patients last year. Ballad’s hospitals have brought at least 44,000 lawsuits since 2009, typically increasing the volume each year.
In nearly all such cases, the hospitals prevail. Only about a dozen patients showed up for the August court date in Wise, hoping to work out a payment plan or contest the claims.

“There is this new group of people who, on paper, look like they should be able to afford their bills,” said Craig Antico, founder of the nonprofit RIP Medical Debt, which buys and forgives outstanding bills. “They’re middle-class, they have relatively good credit ratings, they’re not transient. But they have these big deductibles, and they can’t afford their bills.”

But patient and consumer advocates say hospitals are making faulty assumptions about insured patients’ ability to pay. They also argue that the lawsuits and wage garnishments hit middle- and low-income populations, who struggle to keep up with the lost income. A cashier at a Providence Health hospital in Oregon reported having wages garnished for outstanding medical debt to her own employer. For one paycheck for 80 hours of work, she took home 54 cents after a garnishment and other deductions.
“It’s not that we’re choosing not to pay, but there are other bills,” said Ms. Edwards, 43. “My daughter has to eat, and if it’s choosing between that or paying a doctor bill, I’m going to choose her.”

Ms. Edwards was making $300 monthly payments to the hospital. But after some unanticipated expenses — a $450 exterminator bill for bed bugs was a big setback — she began sending smaller amounts, she said, acknowledging that she had not first cleared the lower payments with Children’s.
The hospital took her to court last fall and recently began garnishing a quarter of her wages: $420 from her biweekly paycheck. Ms. Edwards worked 14-hour shifts to make up for the lost income, but still fell behind on her mortgage.
“It makes you think twice about going to the doctor,” she said. “I haven’t been feeling well for a couple of months, there’s something wrong with my stomach, and everyone is like, ‘Go in, go in.’ But I just can’t. There will be more doctor bills.”

More at the link. Absolutely disgusting how many people in this country want to fight against healthcare for all.
 

Absent

Member
Oct 26, 2017
2,236
In some places, major hospitals now file hundreds or even thousands of lawsuits annually. Those cases strain court systems and often end in wage garnishments for patients.

In Milwaukee, for example, a nonprofit children’s hospital has sued 1,101 patients since the beginning of 2018 — more cases than it brought in the entire previous decade. The city’s only top-level trauma center filed 2,074 suits last year, more than double the prior year’s number.
The hospitals say that they are turning to the courts more frequently as deductibles rise and patients owe more, but that this practice affects a small fraction of their patients. They defend the suits as necessary to recouping outstanding bills and keeping health systems afloat. “We’re only pursuing patients who have the means to pay but choose not to pay,” said Anthony Keck, vice president for system innovation at Ballad Health.

But patient and consumer advocates say hospitals are making faulty assumptions about insured patients’ ability to pay. They also argue that the lawsuits and wage garnishments hit middle- and low-income populations, who struggle to keep up with the lost income. A cashier at a Providence Health hospital in Oregon reported having wages garnished for outstanding medical debt to her own employer. For one paycheck for 80 hours of work, she took home 54 cents after a garnishment and other deductions.
This type of medical debt collection has come under increased scrutiny from judges and state lawmakers. New York is considering legislation that would significantly reduce the statute of limitations on medical debt. Connecticut may reform its system to make it easier for patients, who rarely have legal representation, to navigate.
Children’s sued last year for amounts ranging from $46 ($270, with court fees) to $20,606. This year it has garnished the wages of workers at McDonald’s and Walmart, and of its own employees. Among them is Holly Edwards, a McDonald’s manager and single mother in Milwaukee who fell behind on payments for her 4-year-old’s $2,242 emergency room visit.

“It’s not that we’re choosing not to pay, but there are other bills,” said Ms. Edwards, 43. “My daughter has to eat, and if it’s choosing between that or paying a doctor bill, I’m going to choose her.”
“As a parent, when you have to choose whether to pay the rent or keep the lights on because your paycheck is being garnished, that’s a hard thing to do,” said Mr. Crumley, who recently left that job and is now covered by Medicaid. “You sit there, and you’re so stressed out that you start crying, and your own daughter offers her change jar to you. What kind of person does that make me?”
Those two last quotes are devastating.
 

Zophar

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,175
This is what the GOP wants and worse. If you're not rich they want you to die and give them all of your money on the way out.
 

Xx 720

Member
Nov 3, 2017
2,393
This is terrible, but keep in mind universal health care itself has to be paid for - we definitely need it - but I worry people think that medical bills will magically disappear, of course they won’t. When you go to a hospital now you are paying your bill plus A part of the bills of all the people who never pay anything. It won’t be any different under universal health care except you will pay out of your paycheck.
 

Alcotholic

Member
Oct 27, 2017
3,375
This is terrible, but keep in mind universal health care itself has to be paid for - we definitely need it - but I worry people think that medical bills will magically disappear, of course they won’t. When you go to a hospital now you are paying your bill plus A part of the bills of all the people who never pay anything. It won’t be any different under universal health care except you will pay out of your paycheck.
The difference is that everyone is pitching in a percentage based on their income. And since everyone is involved, that gives the government leverage to negotiate better prices. Everything is cheaper. Especially since we wont be paying monthly premiums in addition to service charges that current insurance wont cover.
 

nsilvias

Member
Oct 25, 2017
3,915
This is terrible, but keep in mind universal health care itself has to be paid for - we definitely need it - but I worry people think that medical bills will magically disappear, of course they won’t. When you go to a hospital now you are paying your bill plus A part of the bills of all the people who never pay anything. It won’t be any different under universal health care except you will pay out of your paycheck.
people never pay anything because no one can afford the damn prices. its not just a hand full of people its most people that cant afford going to the doctor even with insurance
 

Monroe Kelly

Member
Oct 28, 2017
37
This is fucked up, ridiculous, and indefensible. How is this more efficient than just using tax dollars to provide health care to people?

This is terrible, but keep in mind universal health care itself has to be paid for - we definitely need it - but I worry people think that medical bills will magically disappear, of course they won’t. When you go to a hospital now you are paying your bill plus A part of the bills of all the people who never pay anything. It won’t be any different under universal health care except you will pay out of your paycheck.
I mean, we'd save some money by removing 44,000 court cases brought by Ballad alone. That's something. Systemically beating down poor people isn't cheap.
 

dabig2

Member
Oct 29, 2017
2,554
People actually think for-profit healthcare is the way to continue going.

This is terrible, but keep in mind universal health care itself has to be paid for - we definitely need it - but I worry people think that medical bills will magically disappear, of course they won’t. When you go to a hospital now you are paying your bill plus A part of the bills of all the people who never pay anything. It won’t be any different under universal health care except you will pay out of your paycheck.
We pay out of our paycheck already, but at least this time it'll be going to a system that isn't filled with waste and to a system that values actually making people healthy over making a buck.
 

Mathieran

Member
Oct 25, 2017
4,108
This is terrible, but keep in mind universal health care itself has to be paid for - we definitely need it - but I worry people think that medical bills will magically disappear, of course they won’t. When you go to a hospital now you are paying your bill plus A part of the bills of all the people who never pay anything. It won’t be any different under universal health care except you will pay out of your paycheck.
there’s already a number of countries that we could learn from to implement it properly. We know what to expect
 

ArkhamFantasy

Member
Oct 25, 2017
7,041
The people who have decent insurance provided by their work place and rich people are the most resistant to universal health care. The probably dont care that poor people are getting sure because they can't pay their medical bills.
Yup, that's why i was mocking them. "Fuck you got mine, and the less people that can afford to go to the doctor the less waiting time i have".
 

Nude_Tayne

Member
Jan 8, 2018
1,639
earth
This is terrible, but keep in mind universal health care itself has to be paid for - we definitely need it - but I worry people think that medical bills will magically disappear, of course they won’t. When you go to a hospital now you are paying your bill plus A part of the bills of all the people who never pay anything. It won’t be any different under universal health care except you will pay out of your paycheck.
There are multiple benefits to getting rid of the system of countless profiteering corporations as our healthcare middlemen, from eliminating the profit motive behind healthcare decisions they make to drastically increasing bargaining power between them and hospitals/pharma companies.
 
OP
OP
Rei no Otaku

Rei no Otaku

The Fallen
Oct 25, 2017
1,227
Cranston RI
I'm just also in shock that the courts keep siding with the hospitals. Clearly these people can't fucking pay. So let's just garnish their wages until they die in the street like animals.
 

KujoJosuke

Member
Oct 25, 2017
4,365
I had to recently go to the ER and then a few weeks later have to make an urgent dentist visit for serious tooth damage. The dentist visit was 300 bucks and happened literally 6 days before I hit 3 months at my job and could get benefits. Which were not retroactive far enough to cover the dentist.

Fuck America's healthcare system. It is broken.

I am trying to save money to get a place with my gf, and my mother, who is 66 and cant retire, is helping with my medical bills
 

Wolfe

Member
Sep 3, 2018
207
This is terrible, but keep in mind universal health care itself has to be paid for - we definitely need it - but I worry people think that medical bills will magically disappear, of course they won’t. When you go to a hospital now you are paying your bill plus A part of the bills of all the people who never pay anything. It won’t be any different under universal health care except you will pay out of your paycheck.
Get outta here with this shit, you're literally in a thread about hospitals suing people for bills they can't afford.

"Keep in mind" as if this isn't already bottom of the barrel situation here? C'mon dude, no one is sitting here going "yeah being on the free healthcare!", everyone's already paying for it through taxes.
 

dabig2

Member
Oct 29, 2017
2,554
Yeah, like literally every other first-world country on the planet.
We had our chance too in the past until things got fucked up post war:
Blue Cross and its partner, Blue Shield, were more or less the only major insurers at the time and both stood ever ready to enroll new members. The former covered hospital care and the latter doctors’ visits. Between 1940 and 1955, the number of Americans with health insurance skyrocketed from 10 percent to over 60 percent. That was before the advent of government programs like Medicare and Medicaid. The Blue Cross/Blue Shield logo became ubiquitous as a force for good across America. According to their charter, the Blues were nonprofit and accepted everyone who sought to sign up; all members were charged the same rates, no matter how old or how sick. Boy Scouts handed out brochures and preachers urged their congregants to join. By some accounts, Blue Cross Blue Shield became, like Walter Cronkite, one of the most trusted brands in postwar America.

But the new demand for health insurance presented a business opportunity and spawned an emerging market with other motivations. Suddenly, at a time when medicine had more of value to offer, tens of millions of people were interested in gaining access and expected their employers to provide insurance so they could do so. For-profit insurance companies moved in, unencumbered by the Blues’ charitable mission. They accepted only younger, healthier patients on whom they could make a profit. They charged different rates, depending on factors like age, as they had long done with life insurance. And they produced different types of policies, for different amounts of money, which provided different levels of protection.
In 1993, before the Blues went for-profit, insurers spent 95 cents out of every dollar of premiums on medical care, which is called their “medical loss ratio.” To increase profits, all insurers, regardless of their tax status, have been spending less on care in recent years and more on activities like marketing, lobbying, administration and the paying out of dividends. The average medical loss ratio is now closer to 80 percent. Some of the Blues were spending far less than that a decade into the new century. The medical loss ratio at the Texas Blues, where the whole concept of health insurance started, was just 64.4 percent in 2010.

The framers of the Affordable Care Act tried to curb insurers’ profits and their executives’ salaries, which were some of the highest in the U.S. health care industry, by requiring them to spend 80 to 85 percent of every premium dollar on patient care. Insurers fought bitterly against this provision. Its inclusion in the ACA was hailed as a victory for consumers. But even that apparent “demand” was actually quite a generous gift when you consider that Medicare uses 98 percent of its funding for health care and only 2 percent for administration.
Why did EmblemHealth agree to pay nearly $100,000 for each of Jeffrey Kivi’s infusions, even though they cost only $19,000 at another hospital just down the street? First, it’s less trouble for insurers to pay it than not. NYU is a big client that insurers don’t want to lose, and an insurer can compensate for the high price in various ways — by raising premiums, co-payments, or deductibles. Second, now that they suddenly have to use 80 to 85 percent rather than, say, 75 percent of premiums on patient care, insurers have a new perverse motivation to tolerate such big payouts.

In order to make sure their 15 percent take is still sufficient to maintain salaries and investor dividends, insurance executives have to increase the size of the pie. To cover shortfalls, premiums are increased the next year, passing costs on to the consumers. And 15 percent of a big sum is more than 15 percent of a smaller one. No wonder 2017 premiums for the most common type of ACA plan are slated to rise by double digits in many cities, despite economists’ assurances that the growth of health care spending is slowing.
Once upon a time we were working towards something good. And then the money became involved and then 'brutal capitalism for the poor, socialism for the rich' was enacted in our healthcare systems, with corporations and insurance companies receiving public funds and the people receiving the bill, not only for their care but for advertising and some CEO's fucking yacht.

We're engaged in one of the biggest scams in human history. And the fact that we're even having to debate for a non psychopathic and less wasteful healthcare system shows how fucked this country is.
 

Link

Member
Oct 26, 2017
2,245
I'm just also in shock that the courts keep siding with the hospitals. Clearly these people can't fucking pay. So let's just garnish their wages until they die in the street like animals.
If people don’t want to be poor, they should just make more money.

Third world country disguised as a first world country.
If you search, you can see just how many times I’ve said we’re the third-world country of first-world countries.
 

Monroe Kelly

Member
Oct 28, 2017
37
I'm just also in shock that the courts keep siding with the hospitals. Clearly these people can't fucking pay. So let's just garnish their wages until they die in the street like animals.
There are arguments by smarter people than me that the entire legal system exists as a cudgel to protect the class interests of capitalists. This is a good example of evidence supporting that argument.
 

dots

Member
Oct 27, 2017
1,457
This is terrible, but keep in mind universal health care itself has to be paid for - we definitely need it - but I worry people think that medical bills will magically disappear, of course they won’t. When you go to a hospital now you are paying your bill plus A part of the bills of all the people who never pay anything. It won’t be any different under universal health care except you will pay out of your paycheck.
With a single payer, prices will be forced down. Right now hospitals charge absurd rates ($100 for a couple aspirin) because insurers can use that as justification for higher premiums. Insurers make money not off of premiums directly but off of investing them when waiting to pay out. Higher costs actually makes them more money.
 

Alcotholic

Member
Oct 27, 2017
3,375
There are arguments by smarter people than me that the entire legal system exists as a cudgel to protect the class interests of capitalists. This is a good example of evidence supporting that argument.
It's most certainly ism. There is a great documentary on this called "Hot Coffee", which explores the different ways that the Justice and legal system protects corporations. From tort reform to caps on damages to lobbying against progressive justices.
 

Boiled Goose

Member
Nov 2, 2017
9,202
This is terrible, but keep in mind universal health care itself has to be paid for - we definitely need it - but I worry people think that medical bills will magically disappear, of course they won’t. When you go to a hospital now you are paying your bill plus A part of the bills of all the people who never pay anything. It won’t be any different under universal health care except you will pay out of your paycheck.
In other countries people don't go broke or die because they can't afford medical care.

It is fucking different.
 

silkysmooth

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,968
I had a bill come and couldn't pay it right away. I got the second bill and they were already threatening collections and it was less than 90 days since the original bill came. I was able to pay it then but god damn.
 

Nepenthe

When the music hits, you feel no pain.
Moderator
Oct 25, 2017
6,302
Carepoint sent me a letter saying they were going to litigate me if I didn't call to set up payment on an outstanding dental bill. I'm just now recovering from the "generous" set up and will finally get some change back in my account this Thursday (doesn't help that I had a bunch of other bills taken out at the same time.) I can only shudder at what people with more chronic or serious conditions are facing.
 
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Ziltoidia 9

Member
Oct 25, 2017
3,371
A so called "free market" is what caused our country to pay twice as much as SOCIALIZED HEALTHCARE countries do. Again I'll bring up that I doubt the average person knows how much the "employee contribution" is to their monthly premium.
 

Kthulhu

Member
Oct 25, 2017
10,150
This is terrible, but keep in mind universal health care itself has to be paid for - we definitely need it - but I worry people think that medical bills will magically disappear, of course they won’t. When you go to a hospital now you are paying your bill plus A part of the bills of all the people who never pay anything. It won’t be any different under universal health care except you will pay out of your paycheck.
Of course bills won't disappear. Medical debt will plummet though and people who didn't have access to healthcare will finally be able to.
 

fierygunrob

Member
Jan 16, 2018
92
This is terrible, but keep in mind universal health care itself has to be paid for - we definitely need it - but I worry people think that medical bills will magically disappear, of course they won’t. When you go to a hospital now you are paying your bill plus A part of the bills of all the people who never pay anything. It won’t be any different under universal health care except you will pay out of your paycheck.
we would literally spend 2 trillion less, as a country, with Medicare for all than we do right now
 
Oct 25, 2017
7,211
I had an ER visit on October 8th for chest pain that turned out to be GERD.

$4500


1200 of which is for speaking with a doctor for less than 5 mins.
Yeah it's ridiculous. I threw out my back years ago and couldn't move. A literal 5 minute ambulance ride was like $3000. And the ER visit was a few thousand and they didn't do anything except give me pain killers and I sat on a stretcher in the hallway for around 3 hours.
 

Razgriz417

Member
Oct 25, 2017
3,318
having been on the side of employers shopping for and trying to figure out how much of the insurance costs they should bear for their employees, I'm completely on board with pay taxes to get insurance for all. Employers spend a fortune on insurance for employees, what we see deducted from our paychecks is anywhere between 15-50% of the actual cost, it's absurd.
 

Psychoward

Member
Nov 7, 2017
19,826
I'm honestly terrified of when I turn 26 because I have a shitton of medical issues and I'm relying on my mom's insurance right now because it's much better than anything I can get at the moment.
 

Wilsongt

Member
Oct 25, 2017
12,563
This reminds that I have a medical bill to pay that I had thought I had completely paid off over a year and a half ago. Turns out it went to collections and I just found out last month that they will garnish my state tax returns for the $400 I owe that I thought I had paid off.