As I have gotten older and lazier, I have come to adopt a saying that I think is very wise, especially for someone like me — don’t bring me a problem, bring me a solution. I was reminded of that clever saying as I read yet another article spotlighting another hospital for having to sue patients to collect on unpaid debts. This time, it was a hospital in Wisconsin that was exposed as being too aggressive, especially in a pandemic, for suing individuals who have not paid their bills. That is a problem, for sure. But while the article spells out in great detail how there are people who are not able to pay their debts, it is short on providing solutions to help those individuals — and the healthcare facilities that need that money to stay in business — solve their problem.
Anyone who is a regular reader of this site has no doubt noticed the articles that have been written accusing hospitals in Colorado, Texas, Virginia, Oklahoma, New York, Tennessee, Kansas, and Maryland of being “too aggressive” by filing lawsuits to collect on unpaid debts. Many hospitals stopped filing collection lawsuits and enforcing judgments as a result of the publicity.
Along with spotlighting hospitals for suing patients, the other common thread joining all of those reports is that none of them provide a solution to this problem. The article about the hospital in Wisconsin does include a comment from a consumer protection lawyer who concedes that hospitals have a right to get paid, but says that there has to be a “fairer way.” I think everyone in the industry would agree with that statement and then ask the lawyer what that fairer way is.
I will admit that I am breaking my own rule in that I have no solution to this problem. But I can guarantee that more articles calling out hospitals for trying to get paid and using all the legal means at their disposal to do so is not it.