facebook As more patients struggle to pay medical bills, more hospitals seek payment in court

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As more patients struggle to pay medical bills, more hospitals seek payment in court

Voices for Affordable Health has reported before on the disturbing number of patients who are hauled into court because they can’t pay their medical bills. Recently, The New York Times published a story with some concerning revelations:

  • In nearly all cases in which hospitals sue patients over unpaid bills, the hospitals prevail. Often that means patients see their wages garnished by the court to satisfy unpaid medical bills.
  • Major hospitals, including non-profit hospitals, file hundreds or even thousands of lawsuits annually seeking payment from their patients.
  • There are hospitals, including Providence Health in Oregon, that sue their own employees over unpaid medical bills.

Amanda Sturgill, 41, is one of those sued by her local hospital over an outstanding $2,498 debt for her daughter’s back surgery.

“Of course I want to pay it,” Sturgill told the New York Times. “It just seems like they want their money no matter what my situation is.”

A single mother supporting four children, Sturgill had agreed to pay the hospital $150 a month but struggled to meet her monthly obligations. Sometimes that means she’d have to scrimp on food or sell personal items at the flea market.

A number of factors, including rising costs and high insurance deductibles, have contributed to consumers’ rising medical debt. Lawmakers in several states are looking at what they can do to reverse the growing number of medical debt lawsuits.

Have you or someone you know been saddled with a medical debt you cannot pay? Click this link to share your story. Also, Voices for Affordable Health offers tips to help you bring your hospital costs down.