Coming to a Hospital Near You: Bedside Bill Collectors

This won’t take long.

If you happen to know anyone who is still having doubts about why a major overhaul of America’s health care system is imperative, you might suggest that they take a peek at this article from the New York Times that ran recently. Not that there haven’t already been emergency rooms full of articles written about how broken this system is. If you want to locate the data, you don’t need to be a professional researcher to locate it.

But if you’re really having struggles finding this information, for whatever reason, then the quickest, surest way to lay your hands on incontrovertible research findings is to find yourself sick, broke, and in a hospital bed with little or no money to pay your bill. Because what some hospitals are doing now is essentially hiring some of Tony Soprano’s relatives and associates to come pay you a bedside visit and, you know, offer “words of encouragement.” Words like, “If you don’t have the money to pay this friggin’ bill then maybe you don’t feel so good in the morning when you wake up. If you wake up.”

OK. Slight exaggeration perhaps.


From the April 24, 2012 edition of New York Times:

Hospital patients waiting in an emergency room or convalescing after surgery are being confronted by an unexpected visitor: a debt collector at bedside.

This and other aggressive tactics by one of the nation’s largest collectors of medical debts,Accretive Health, were revealed on Tuesday by the Minnesota attorney general, raising concerns that such practices have become common at hospitals across the country.

The tactics, like embedding debt collectors as employees in emergency rooms and demanding that patients pay before receiving treatment, were outlined in hundreds of company documents released by the attorney general. And they cast a spotlight on the increasingly desperate strategies among hospitals to recoup payments as their unpaid debts mount.

Remember that commercial? The one that says, “This is your brain. This is your brain on drugs.” Yeah, that one. I believe the image representing a brain on drugs was an egg frying in a pan. So you know where I’m going with this, right? Because this is America. But this is America under the boot of Republican rule. It’s where we’re headed if we don’t win this thing in November. I mean, you have to wonder if Newt Gingrich had a hand in coming up with this bedside collections idea, seeing as how it seems to so perfectly reflect his caring philosophy when it comes to shedding unwanted spouses.

Ouch, you say? Yeah, well I daresay Newt can afford the pain.

Not everyone can.


4 Replies to “Coming to a Hospital Near You: Bedside Bill Collectors”

  1. This is what the GOP calls freedom! Freedom to be manipulated, tortured and harrassed.

    But it is also an excellent example of why we must have universal healthcare

  2. They’ve been doing that in Florida for some time. Ask any poor person.

    If they think you don’t know the law, they’ll tell you that you will be refused service even in the emergency room if you don’t pay. The doctors will first grill you about how you’re going to pay for the care before they start treatment. They send people to the room to grill you. They put you in a hard straight-backed chair and want your life history and every little thing about your finances while you’re there sick or hurting.

    If you don’t have any means to pay, it gets rough. Been there, done that, have the t-shirt and know the song. Even went into bankruptcy because of it… medical bills.

    I’m afraid that people might start having a hard time believing all of the crap we’ve been put through in this “Nice, Good Christian county”. (Hint: race researchers I know call it “Bigot central USA” just because of the things done to minorities.) Otherwise I’d share one story about hospitals and bill collection that is almost unbelievable, unless you’ve been poor and living in this area.

  3. Exactly how healthy will the populace at large be with pools of untreated sick developing antibiotic resistant diseases? Exactly how many disabled will we wind up supporting because they weren’t treated when their injuries and illnesses were curable? England, between the Wars, neglected the health, wellbeing, and eucation of its lesser classes. Germany knew better. William Shirer, reporting from the German side of the lines before we ourselves were at war, was shocked at the difference in the soldiery: the English youth, meager, rickety, pasty, and flaccid; the German soldiery fit, well-grown, vigorous and athletic. To leave one’s people – especially the young people- sick, malnourished, and ignorant, is a self-destructive policy even in times of peace, but this cadre for which VoMitt is the figurehead wants to embark on an endless campaign of military and economic conquest.

    At one time, the French thought they could rely on the physically splendid Senegalese to do their fighting for them. George Orwell, observing a company marching by the cafe where he was seated on one fine day in 1939, wondered how many years it would be before they turned that martial splendor on the French. He guessed twenty years, and that was about right. We don’t even have any Senegalese, and if we take the route the Romnids are laying out for us, we won’t have nearly that much time, either.

  4. My husband was out of town on a golf trip with some of his friends from college when he became very ill and ended up having an emergency appendectomy. It was performed in the a.m. and by 2 P.M. that afternoon, I had arrived at the hospital. I stepped out of his room for just a few minutes to get something to drink and when I came back in there was a woman shaking my husband’s arm, trying to wake him up to ask him questions about his insurance. I was livid. I pulled her out of the room and asked her WTF she needed to speak to him about that was so important since he had just come up from surgery. She wanted to know when we were going to pay our deductible. I told her I’d pay it when we got a bill for it. She starts in on me about how expensive it is going to be for us and wanted to know if we owned our home and other ridiculous questions. By the time my husband was released, they were happy to see him leave just so they could get rid of me. Having been a Registered Nurse Practitioner for over 20 years and currently running a medical billing agency out of my home, I knew the hospital had overstepped their bounds with their personal questions and bothering my husband within hours after surgery. I told them if anyone else bothered him, I’d call my brother who happens to be an attorney. They were quick to assure me they meant no harm but what about the people who don’t know their rights? Yes, we paid the bill as soon as it came in but what about those who don’t have the money on hand to cover a $5k deductible? Does the hospital threaten them, too? Of course.

    But please try to remember as the GOP keeps telling us, we have the best healthcare system in the world, as long as you have the money to pay for it. If not, hurry up & die as Alan Grayson said, was quite accurate in regards to the GOP motto.

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