An interesting look at the problems facing Chicago-area hospitals and healthcare organizations as they deal with an increase in the amount of unpaid debts from patients. One hospital has nearly $270 million in unpaid healthcare debts and two other hospitals each have more than $135 million. The 10 largest hospitals in Chicago have more than $700 million in uncompensated care debts.
In fact, some of the solutions being put into place by hospitals are causing more problems than they are solving. Here, a former nurse who now runs a patient advocate service, shares her experience:
… while hospitals frequently call patients to set up payment plans, the callers are low-level customer service representatives who have no power to deal with bill discrepancies or bigger concerns. “The hospitals are actually putting more barriers between billing and consumers,” Dreher says. “Five years ago, you could walk in and talk to a billing expert, explain your situation and have a little bit of leverage to negotiate your bill down.”
Hospitals often fail to include due dates on the bills they send to clients. So when an individual receives a credit card bill or an auto loan bill with a clear due date printed on it, and a bill from the hospital asking for the amount to be repaid, the hospital bill goes to the bottom of the priority list.
One interesting little hiccup at the end of the article though. For some reason, Van Ru Credit Corp., a Chicago-area collection agency is mentioned and it seems really out of place.
That’s another cottage industry that’s profiting off the trend. Patient advocates say they increasingly have to deal with collection agencies such as Van Ru Credit Corp., a Des Plaines-based debt collector. Van Ru, which did not respond to a request for comment, was previously in the business of collections for student loans—a practice for which it received complaints, according to a spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office.
Now it’s in the business of medical collections.
Collection agencies are not a cottage industry and hospitals sending unpaid accounts to collection agencies is not new.