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.
To patients, the debt collectors may look indistinguishable from hospital employees, may demand they pay outstanding bills and may discourage them from seeking emergency care at all, even using scripts like those in collection boiler rooms, according to the documents and employees interviewed by The New York Times.
In some cases, the company’s workers had access to health information while persuading patients to pay overdue bills, possibly in violation of federal privacy laws, the documents indicate.
The attorney general, Lori Swanson, also said that Accretive employees may have broken the law by not clearly identifying themselves as debt collectors.
I’m just wondering what kind of person is okay with this to the point that they still oppose healthcare reform laws that might help prevent this sort of bullshit.
Also: there are some disgusting human beings out there who apparently have no fucking shame.
I find this absolutely appalling. I’ve had five close family members spend days or weeks in the hospital for various ailments at different points over the past decade. The thought of someone implying that they might not receive vital care if they can’t pay for it right away is horrific. If this tactic had been used on my brother (who is also one of my best friends) a few years ago when he had a bizarre House-like series of diagnoses, he very well might not be alive today. And I would be in jail for busting the heads of the people who let it happen.
This has been sitting open in my browser for a couple weeks, and I’m finally getting around to posting it here.
For centuries, women have been working in thankless positions in pretty much every field of study and industry while history texts only glorify the accomplishments of men. I’m not saying the guys haven’t done some cool stuff — clearly they have — but a lot of those breakthroughs wouldn’t have happened without the unsung toils of the women who worked alongside them.
In honor of International Women’s Day (March 8th — told you I was late to the party) and Women’s History Month, the Smithsonian Institution Archives posted a gallery of women who worked on important scientific projects during the late 19th and early 20th centuries without their due recognition. From staff on the Manhattan Project to astronomers to Antarctic explorers, it’s long past time for these ladies to get a shoutout.