If patients did not have enough to worry about with the risk of hospital-acquired infections and medical errors, they can now worry that when they open their eyes after a surgery, they will find a debt collector hovering over their bed. In a shameful example of the depths to which collection agencies can stoop, the Minnesota attorney general is reporting that a debt collection agency placed its employees in hospitals to harass patients.
The company, Accretive Health Inc. is now the subject of a lawsuit filed by the Minnesota Atty. Gen. The Atty. Gen. alleges that the company violated US as well as state debt collection laws. The abuse is also believed to be in violation of patient privacy laws.
According to the Minnesota Atty. Gen., Accretive Health Inc pressured patients at a Minnesota hospital chain to pay for their medical expenses, even while they were undergoing care. These incidents allegedly occurred at Fairview Health Services, a chain of hospitals in Minnesota. The Fairview chain, which consists of 7 nonprofit hospitals based in Minneapolis, trained its employees to use a medical system that would track patients who had not paid their medical bills. Patients who hadn’t paid their bills were derisively referred to as ‘blue balls.’
According to the Atty. Gen., Fairview hired Accretive Health in May 2010. The two companies entered into a cozy relationship, and Accretive’s employees soon began harassing patients long before they were fully recovered. The company’s tactics have been described as high-pressure tactics that simply do not gel with the charitable medical services that the chain is supposed to provide.
Unfortunately, Indiana medical malpractice lawyers do not believe that these tactics are confined to one hospital chain in Minnesota, or one particular debt collection agency. The New York Times is reporting that hospitals are struggling under a load of unpaid medical bills, and many are stooping to letting debt collection agencies through their doors. These agencies specialize in collecting money on unpaid medical bills.
It’s not unusual for a hospital to hire debt collection agencies to pursue medical bills. However, many hospitals now seem to be allowing the hounding of patients while they are still in the hospital, and still recovering from an illness. Many hospitals now seem to have no qualms about letting debt collection agencies through the doors of the hospital, while they were not allowed in earlier. The debt collection agencies assure the hospitals that they will recover the bills, and in exchange, the hospitals allow them to take over patient registration and back-office collection activities.
The Indiana medical malpractice attorneys at Montross Miller Muller Mendelson Kennedy represent persons injured due to the negligence of medical professionals across Indiana.