A Wisconsin hospital’s collections process drew the ire of a local union, which organized a protest yesterday to get the provider to stop “aggressively suing” patients with unpaid medical debts.
The protest even made its way onto the local news in Western Wisconsin. It was organized by the Service Employees International Union, the largest health care union in Wisconsin.
The objective of the protest was to convince the healthcare provider, Gundersen Health System, to stop suing patients, garnishing the wages of its employees who did not pay their medical bills, forgive medical debts, and offer better insurance to its employees, according to the protest’s organizer.
Hospitals across the country have come under fire for their collection practices of late. Consumer advocates, media outlets, and others have attempted to spotlight what they deem to be collection practices that are too aggressive. Hospitals and healthcare facilities in Texas, Virginia, Oklahoma, New York, Tennessee, Kansas, and Maryland have all been accused in published reports of being too aggressive with their collection efforts. Many hospitals stopped filing collection lawsuits and enforcing judgments as a result of the publicity.
Gundersen released a statement in response to the protest that said, “The cost of care is too high throughout the healthcare industry, especially in the middle of a pandemic. Medical expenses can be difficult for many people, whether they have health insurance or not. While patients do have options through interest-free payment plans, discounts for those who are uninsured, and free estimates for out-of-pocket expenses, more work needs to be done locally and across our industry to reduce the cost of healthcare.”