Yet another healthcare organization has announced it will no longer file lawsuits against individuals with unpaid medical bills, and will no longer seek to garnish wages or bank accounts or have liens placed on homes.
VCU Health, which operates a number of hospitals in Virginia, including Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU, MCV Physicians, and VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital, made the announcement earlier this week. A number of other healthcare organizations in Virginia have come under fire for what are being labeled as aggressive collection tactics for filing lawsuits against individuals who do not pay their medical bills.
A host of healthcare networks across the country have been subjected to articles from mainstream media outlets questioning why they sue individuals with unpaid debts. Hospitals in Virginia, Oklahoma, New York, Tennessee, and Maryland have all been accused of being too aggressive with their collection efforts.
Along with eliminating its legal collection strategy, VCU Health also announced it is making changes to its charity care program. Individuals making less than $25,000 a year — about 200% of the federal poverty line — will have 100% of their charges erased. Currently, the company uses a sliding scale to determine how much of a balance to write off for people making under $25,000. Individuals making $37,000 a year will have 50% of their balance wiped out, which is up from 45% currently. The company said it is “discussing several possibilities” about how to handle court cases that have already been filed against individuals.
“Today, quality care goes beyond physical and behavioral health,” VCU Health said in making the announcement. “It is equally important that a health care bill is affordable and does not put too much of a strain on a family’s financial wellbeing.”
What if a patient is insured, but the insurance pays the patient, and the patient does not pay the hospital. This type of debt should encourage every means available, including legal action (suing), to collect on behalf of the hospital. It’s only fair to those who do pay their hospital bills. Other points to consider are the deductible and coinsurance, if full payment is not paid by the insurer. Those are clearly the responsibility of the patient, who chose those parameters when signing up for coverage. Those items should never be waived, and in some cases the law requires the usual, normal and full effort to collect them