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These hospitals sue patients who don't pay bills
June 27, 2019

From the Wall Street Journal:

Carlos Ortiz underwent tests last year at Mary Washington Hospital in Fredericksburg, Va., for dizziness that later was linked to an inner-ear problem.

When the uninsured gardener couldn't pay his bill of about $15,000, the nonprofit institution took him to court. Mary Washington Hospital and others in Virginia were suing so many other patients that day that Fredericksburg Circuit Court had cleared the docket to hear all the cases.

The patients "were coming one by one in front of the judge," said Mr. Ortiz, 65, of Locust Grove, Va. "It was sad to see how many people were going through this."

Nonprofit hospitals – which receive significant tax breaks because of their not-for-profit status – are more likely than for-profit hospitals to garnish the wages of patients, according to a study of Virginia hospitals published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The study examined hospital lawsuits that resulted in wage garnishment for unpaid bills.

In Virginia, where Mary Washington is based, nonprofit hospitals in 2017 filed 20,000 lawsuits against patients for unpaid debt, according to the study led by Dr. Marty Makary, a health-policy professor at Johns Hopkins University.

Continue reading at the Wall Street Journal...

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