How many U.S. hospitals aggressively pursue medical debt from patients

On Behalf of | Jan 13, 2023 | Medical Debt

Hospitals are a vital part of the public health system. You go to the hospital when you are very sick or badly injured and need expert medical treatment. However, life-saving treatment is not free, as anyone who has ever undergone it can tell you. Even if you have good health insurance — and especially if you don’t — hospital bills can easily reach tens of thousands of dollars or more.

It is quite common for Chattanooga-area families to struggle financially after a medical emergency or chronic illness. In fact, for millions of Americans, the burden of huge medical debt can wipe out their savings and bring them to the brink of financial ruin. Many families are even forced to cut back on necessities like food just to make the minimum payments. And hospitals are increasingly using aggressive tactics to get paid.

‘Extraordinary’ methods from hospitals

A recent investigation showed that American hospitals frequently use what federal regulations call “extraordinary collection actions,” which include:

  • Suing or threatening to sue
  • Selling the debt to debt-buying companies, which then aggressively pursue repayment
  • Reporting patients to credit rating agencies, thus damaging the patient’s credit score
  • Denying nonemergency medical care to patients with outstanding debt

That final tactic is especially troubling. While nonprofit and for-profit hospitals need to get paid for their services to stay in business, denying needed medical attention over money can put a patient’s health and quality of life at serious risk.

One of the advantages of filing for bankruptcy is that it halts debt collector harassment. This helps give you time and mental energy to work with your bankruptcy attorney on how to use the process to eliminate as much of your debt as possible.