A hospital in Connecticut is learning that there is more than just reputation and public relations issues when you are spotlighted for taking too many people to court because they are not paying their medical bills.
Danbury Hospital, which has been cited as responsible for half of the medical debt cases filed in 2016 — the most recent data available, according to a published report. The facility filed 13,824 suits in 2016, which was 39% higher than the number it had filed a year earlier.
The hospital has already announced it is “modernizing” its collection approach and making changes to its collection practices and procedures, without explicitly detailing what those changes are. “Our collection practices have always been based on a desire to treat people fairly and at the same time recover money that is owed to us,” a hospital spokeswoman said. “This report has identified that our practices need to be modernized, and we have already begun to make those changes.”
But now, a state agency has announced it is looking into the hospital’s practices. Connecticut’s Office of Health Strategy confirmed the probe in a published report.
“This data on Danbury Hospital is very concerning and raises a lot of questions,” said Vicki Veltri, executive director of the OHS. “OHS is going to review Danbury Hospital’s reported debt-collection practices.”
Hospitals in Virginia, Oklahoma, New York, Tennessee, and Maryland have all been accused of being too aggressive with their collection efforts. In response, many of the hospitals have announced plans to no longer file lawsuits against individuals with unpaid debts and to increase the thresholds for individuals who can qualify to receive charity care.
High deductible health plans are being cited as the reason that more individuals are leaving the hospital with unpaid debts, which is why the hospital has had to file more lawsuits. The Connecticut legislature has even established a High Deductible Health Plan Task Force to try and address the issue.