Another hospital — this time in Alabama — is being called out for suing individuals who do not pay their healthcare bills, and patients are accusing the facility of not being empathetic enough in deploying their charity care options.
Jackson Hospital in Montgomery, Ala., filed 1,032 lawsuits last year — the most of any non-profit hospital in the state, according to the report. In some cases, the hospital sued for unpaid debts as low as $150. Other hospitals in the state are more willing to work out payment plans with patients than Jackson, according to former patients of the facilities.
The process of shaming hospitals for suing individuals with unpaid debts is becoming a more and more popular. To date, hospitals in Virginia, Oklahoma, New York, Tennessee, and Maryland have all been accused of being too aggressive with their collection efforts. By comparison to the number of suits filed by Jackson Hospital, the Washington Post reported last year that the University of Virginia Health System has filed more than 36,000 lawsuits in the past six years against individuals with unpaid debts.
In many cases, the hospitals have announced changes to their collection policies, going as far as deciding not to file lawsuits when individuals do not pay their unpaid healthcare bills.
Donald Williamson, the president of the Alabama Hospital Association noted that 75% of the facilities in his state operate at a loss at a time when they are handing out half-a-billion dollars in charity care every year. Hospitals “can’t survive without being paid for their services.”