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.
Keith Owens (AKA Black Liberal Boomer) is a Detroit-based writer who has worked for The Detroit Free Press, Detroit’s alternative newsweekly the Metro Times, the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel, and other newspapers. He was also a nationally syndicated columnist with Universal Press Syndicate for three years beginning in 1993.