The University of Virginia Health System is the latest hospital network to get the “suing too much” treatment from a local media outlet, with the Washington Post pointing out that it has filed more than 36,000 lawsuits seeking to recover $106 million in unpaid bills during the six-year period ending in June 2018.
The UVa Health System joins a host of other healthcare networks that have been subjected to similar articles from other media outlets. Hospitals in Virginia, Oklahoma, New York, Tennessee, and Maryland have all been accused of being too aggressive with their collection efforts.
Right from the start, the WaPo article pulls no punches. First, it points out that an unpaid medical debt stemming from an emergency surgery contributed to a married couple’s divorce, then it follows up with this:
But the UVa health system stands out for the scope of its collection efforts and how persistently it goes after payment, pursuing poor as well as middle-class patients for almost all they’re worth, according to court records, hospital documents and interviews with hospital officials and dozens of patients.
The article also points out how the hospital system has the “most restrictive eligibility guidelines for financial assistance to patients of any major hospital system in Virginia.”
A hospital spokesman is quoted in the article saying that lawsuits are a last resort and the “vast majority” of patients are able to work out payment plans.
Looking at the practices of other hospital networks in and around Virginia, the article concludes that UVa is more aggressive in its collection efforts than other facilities.
In a tweet late Monday night, the president of UVa said the hospital will work to make its collection efforts “more humane.”