Posts Tagged ‘hospitals’

NPR: … .When Nonprofit Hospitals Sue Their Poorest Patients

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On the eastern edge of St. Joseph, Mo., lies the small city’s only hospital, a landmark of modern brick and glass buildings. Everyone in town knows Heartland Regional Medical Center — many residents gave birth to their children here. Many rush here when they get hurt or sick.

And there’s another reason everyone knows this place: Thousands of people around St. Joseph have been sued by the hospital and had their wages seized to pay for medical bills. Some of them, given their income, could have qualified to get their bill forgiven entirely — but the hospital seized their wages anyway.

Nonprofit hospitals get huge tax breaks — they are considered charities and therefore don’t pay federal or state income tax or local property tax. In exchange, they are obligated to provide financial assistance or “charity care” to lower-income patients.

Some nonprofit hospitals around the country don’t ever seize their patients’ wages. Some do so only in very rare cases. But others sue hundreds of patients every year. Heartland, which is in the process of changing its name to Mosaic Life Care, seizes more money from patients than any other hospital in Missouri. From 2009 through 2013, the hospital’s debt collection arm garnished the wages of about 6,000 people, according to a ProPublica analysis of state court data.

After the hospital wins a judgment against a former patient in court, it’s entitled to take a hefty portion of the patient’s paychecks going forward: 25 percent of after-tax pay. For patients who are the head of household, if they tell the hospital or court that information, the hospital can seize only 10 percent of each paycheck.

But Heartland, through the debt collection company Northwest Financial Services, often sues both adults in a household — garnishing one at the 10 percent rate and the other at the full 25 percent of their pay. The hospital also charges patients 9 percent interest, the maximum allowed under state law.
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The Grinch visited my household last night!!,

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Three days before Christmas, after five at night, a process server knocked on our door. The hospital was serving a garnishment claim from an emergency room, ICU visit.

Let me ask your opinion on the way our hospitals are treating us. What is the rationale in this example.

A single mom with three kids under six has to quit her career, her job because of garnishments from the local hospital.

She can not afford to pay the babysitter with what is left of her check. How do you pay rent or buy food? Does illness sentence us to poverty. A family to homelessness?

Does a family deserve annihilation because of illness?

Are these doctors and hospitals healers?

A recent front page article, detailed how the corporately owned hospital made record profits.

An illness these days can destroy not only you but your whole family.

With excellent insurance, I am still making payments for my Guillian Beret illness, ICU stay from two full years ago.

Deductibles can run over $10,000 now.
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