1 of 4
1
debt collection at the hospital?
Posted: 25 April 2012 07:42 AM   [ Ignore ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2885
Joined  2011-08-15

Anyone run into this situation? Hospitals are apparently hiring debt collection agencies to collect hospital costs WHILE the patient is still in the hospital. Minnisota hospitals have been sited for this practice due to the millions of dollars in unpaid debts. Scary stuff as we continually talk about affordable health care. Now they’re going after you while you are getting treament.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/25/business/debt-collector-is-faulted-for-tough-tactics-in-hospitals.html?_r=1&src=me&ref=general


Cap’t Jack

 Signature 

One good schoolmaster is of more use than a hundred priests.

Thomas Paine

Profile
 
 
Posted: 25 April 2012 08:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1191
Joined  2011-08-01

The brother of a friend works in the collections office of a hospital where they have started calling people without insurance before scheduled procedures to start collecting. Like they don’t already have enough to worry about.

It’s a shame what we have come to in America with regard to the availability of health care. A crying shame.

 Signature 

Free in Kentucky
—Humanist
“I am patient with stupidity but not with those who are proud of it.”—Edith Sitwell

Profile
 
 
Posted: 25 April 2012 08:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2885
Joined  2011-08-15

Yes, and debt collection is apparently a big business here in the U.S. I often wonder if Canada (with it’s socialized medicine or course) allows patients to be harassed in this manner. And yet the poor will persist in voting in the very people who will allow this to be done to them! Amazing.

Cap’t Jack

 Signature 

One good schoolmaster is of more use than a hundred priests.

Thomas Paine

Profile
 
 
Posted: 25 April 2012 08:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  15305
Joined  2006-02-14

Yep I saw this today in the paper. Awful.

 Signature 

Doug

-:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:-

El sueño de la razón produce monstruos

Profile
 
 
Posted: 25 April 2012 08:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  3121
Joined  2008-04-07
Thevillageatheist - 25 April 2012 08:21 AM

And yet the poor will persist in voting in the very people who will allow this to be done to them! Amazing.

Thank the lying, anger-mongering FOX News for that.

 Signature 

Turn off Fox News - Bad News For America
(Atheists are myth understood)

Profile
 
 
Posted: 25 April 2012 08:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2885
Joined  2011-08-15

Bill O’liely and Lush Rimball. shut eye


Cap’t Jack

 Signature 

One good schoolmaster is of more use than a hundred priests.

Thomas Paine

Profile
 
 
Posted: 25 April 2012 11:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  345
Joined  2006-11-27

On this topic, sort of:

I have a good friend who, although she has insurance, had, and I mean had to have a procedure that her insurance wouldn’t pay for.  She paid the bill out of pocket.  A few months later, she was readmitted for a very similar procedure which the insurance company decided to cover this time, (go figure),  She received the bill for that procedure and noted that the quoted cost was almost exactly what she had paid out of pocket for the first procedure, but the insurance only paid 1/2 that cost and the hospital accepted that as paid in full.  She went to the billing office and questioned her initial, out of pocket payment and was told that if she had negotiated the cost before her procedure the hospital might have cut her the same deal.

I think there are a couple important points.  Obviously, a person who is seriously ill, weak, frightened and in an extremely vulnerable state, must remember, here in the U.S.A, to save up the strength to have a head to head negotiation with the billing office of the hospital before their essential procedure.  Secondly, the insurance companies, by refusing to pay, and getting away with it because they are acting as a monopoly, transfer the cost of health care to the uninsured, through whom the hospitals try to make up their losses.

You gotta love it, we’ve no other choice.

 Signature 

If we’re not laughing, they’re winning.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 25 April 2012 01:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  3121
Joined  2008-04-07

I agree Jeciron, that’s absurd. I had a similar situation on a smaller scale when my dermatologist prescribed a cream that cost about $300. On my following visit, I mentioned that that was expensive cream, she said, “But you didn’t have to pay for it, right?” I told her that I did. She said, “Oh, you should have called us and we would have prescribed a cheaper one.”

That pisses me off. And it seems to be the default stance of most doctors I have met. (I haven’t met McGyver.)  wink

 Signature 

Turn off Fox News - Bad News For America
(Atheists are myth understood)

Profile
 
 
Posted: 25 April 2012 05:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
Moderator
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  5169
Joined  2010-06-16

I agree, Traveler.  My new ENT guy (my old ENT retired) prescribed ear drops for a yeast infection that cost me $12.50 my part of the insurance cost of $50.00 for a tablespoon sized bottle.  When I got it home and read the micro-printing on the label I saw it was essentially vinegar, a good two cents worth.  I’ll be looking for a new ENT Dr.

Occam

 Signature 

Succinctness, clarity’s core.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 25 April 2012 06:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2018
Joined  2007-04-26

I hope no one minds if I step in and address a few of these issues from the other side just to add some perspective to this.

First, I agree there should be national health insurance and then this would all be a moot point. This current system is insane and immoral.

As far as the hospital trying to collect while the patient is still in the hospital I would agree that it may seem distasteful and there is probably no happy way to approach a patient about this but look at it from a slightly different perspective. The hospital is a business and like any other business it has to pay its bills. Very few hospitals are profitable. Losing millions of dollar a year on patients who accept care and never pay their bill ends up costing the rest of us money because the hospital has to raise rates to cover their loses. Ultimately we all pay the cost for those who skip out. The hospital is in an odd position of having to provide services on a daily basis to people with no guarantee of ever being paid. It would be like going to a restaurant and asking them to bill you for your meal as you walk out the door without paying. The restaurant would never let you get away with that. If they did they would go out of business very quickly.

I’m not saying the hospital should send a rep to Joe’s bedside with a bill while he is recovering from surgery but they are in a difficult spot and if they don’t make every effort to collect Joe’s bill then you and I end up paying for Joe’s appendectomy because he chose to take a calculated risk by not carrying health insurance and stuck all of us with the cost.

As far as the actual price of the procedure, under the current system I believe it is perfectly acceptable for the uninsured individual to be given a higher price than the insured one for several reasons. First of all this is not unlike other businesses where you get a discount for volume. insurance companies cover hundreds of thousands of lives. When they negotiate with a hospital they are offering the hospital the opportunity to provide services to all of those patients and in return the hospital is willing to offer a lower price. The hospital also has reduced costs when they take care of insured patients since there is a lower rate of default. Its reasonable to accept a lower reimbursement rate for them. Its very unlikely that the hospital would offer that rate to the uninsured individual even if they had negotiated before hand. I certainly wouldn’t in my office. The negotiation alone would cost me money in lost time for my staff and myself. Its not something I would encourage or agree to.

The comment about prescription drugs also deserves addressing. Here I agree with you guys. Its ridiculous that some docs still use grossly over priced and expensive drugs when there are much cheaper options, but patients don’t need to accept this. Whenever you are given a prescription you should ask your doctor if there is a less expensive alternative that will work as well. Sometimes there is and sometimes there isn’t but it never hurts to ask. Far too many docs and patients take the attitude that if the insurance company is paying for it they dont care. I have had pharm reps try to tell me I shouldn’t worry about prescribing a $120/mth BP med because the average copay for that drug is only $10/mth. I usually tell them i prefer to use the generic drug that costs $10/mth in total because even though the cost to the patient may be the same the cost to society is much less and we all pay that cost. Too many docs prescribe the latest and greatest drug because they are brainwashed by the pharm reps and because as odd as it may sound, patients sometimes think we’re better doctors if we use the new and fancy drug instead of the one grandma used in the 60’s. Patients are also partly to blame because they often want the newest and most expensive option. I have had lots of patients say to me ” thats why I pay for insurance” when they insist on a $200 prescription which is no better than the $10 one i offered them.  Don’t be afraid to bring up cost with your doctor. I always consider cost when I think there is a reasonable substitute even if the patient doesn’t ask but sometimes you have to let your doctor know that you’re not one of those patients who’s going to judge them poorly if they don;t hand you the latest super drug.

[ Edited: 25 April 2012 06:31 PM by macgyver ]
 Signature 

For every complex problem there is a solution that is simple, obvious,.... and just plain wrong

Profile
 
 
Posted: 25 April 2012 06:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  7641
Joined  2008-04-11

I just saw a story about a woman who won a 30 million dollar judgement against one of the biggest debt collection agencies in the country. I didn’t know it would be part of a thread here, or I would have made a note of where I saw it!! But, good for her!!

 Signature 

Church; where sheep congregate to worship a zombie on a stick that turns into a cracker on Sundays…

Profile
 
 
Posted: 26 April 2012 05:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1191
Joined  2011-08-01

Thanks for the perspective, macgyver. As usual, your POV is informed, rational, and helpful. Folks are just frustrated and fed up with the excesses and inefficiencies of the system. As you state well, the ultimate and best solution would be universal coverage, but I don’t see that happening in the US anytime soon.

 Signature 

Free in Kentucky
—Humanist
“I am patient with stupidity but not with those who are proud of it.”—Edith Sitwell

Profile
 
 
Posted: 26 April 2012 07:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  3121
Joined  2008-04-07
asanta - 25 April 2012 06:34 PM

I just saw a story about a woman who won a 30 million dollar judgement against one of the biggest debt collection agencies in the country. I didn’t know it would be part of a thread here, or I would have made a note of where I saw it!! But, good for her!!

I wonder how long it will take them to pay?  smile

 Signature 

Turn off Fox News - Bad News For America
(Atheists are myth understood)

Profile
 
 
Posted: 26 April 2012 09:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  345
Joined  2006-11-27

I wish I could, I really want to be able to refute macgyver’s statement.  But, under the present fair market model that the health industry operates under, I yield to his logic.  What an unpalatable, inhumane position that puts me in, though.  Under this system an honest individual who can least afford healthcare will pay the most for a procedure, not even a fair price, but one that subsidizes those less honest, and, if the insurance giants can force an unfair payment schedule upon the medical industry, then the honest individual costs subsidize corporate greed. 

This would all be moral and fair if health care is just another consumer choice, like buying a flat screen television or a car.  Perhaps that’s how we should view the medical industry.  But getting sick is not like choosing to buy a car.  Sure, sometimes an individuals behavior predisposes them to becoming ill, but I think it would be damn hard to substantiate the claim that a person’s illness is their always their own fault.  And if an individuals health is not of their own making, then what injustice and tragedy this system creates.

 Signature 

If we’re not laughing, they’re winning.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 26 April 2012 09:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
Moderator
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  5169
Joined  2010-06-16

Thanks, Macgyver.  Although I’ve always asked my doctors as much as I could about any problem I’ve had and researched it myself, I have no idea why I never asked about the cost, generics, or even efficacy of prescriptions.  I’ll certainly do that from now on.  Thanks again.

Occam

 Signature 

Succinctness, clarity’s core.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 27 April 2012 11:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4142
Joined  2008-08-14

Yes there needs to be sensible laws enabling debt collection.  Collecting right in the hospital is a good idea if it’s done tastefully.  I think there should be discussion about selling various levels of quality medical services too-dependent on the persons ability to pay. Kind of like budget hospitals.  Or Dollar Clinics. They have Free Clinics, but they should have a next step up-Bargain Clinics.
Then we wrap that up with good strong tort reform and we’re on to something.  People’s right to have their grievances heard in a court of law should be curtailed.  The health industry is a good yardstick to determine what is abuse and the small percentage of cases that might merit damages.
This way we can keep the current system of health care viable. Maybe make the person pay right there in the hospital with organ donations or mandatory blood donorship. Take one kidney.  Or 50 gallons of blood over 3 years.

 Signature 

Row row row your boat gently down the stream.  Merrily Merrily merrily merrily life is but a dream!

Profile
 
 
   
1 of 4
1