Debt collectors visiting sick patients in hospital

Debt collectors visiting sick patients in hospital

Imagine a debt collector visiting sick people who owe money, coming up to their bedsides in hospital, and you might think that this was a description of a new movie - it is not; it really does happen. Debt collectors, according to the Minnesota Attorney General, Lori Swanson, have been confronting debtors in emergency rooms and hospital wards.

The debt-collecting company, Accretive Health, one of the USA's major collectors of medical debts, has been involved in practices that have made the Attorney General wonder how common might be across the nation.

In some cases, the company planted debt collectors as emergency room employees, who would then tell patients that they that they would have to pay up, otherwise they would not be able to receive treatment, according to company documents that had to be released.

One also has to wonder how desperate hospitals are becoming if they have to resort to such measures to recover unpaid debts.

According to the New York Times, patients are unable to tell the debt collectors from normal hospital staff. They are told to pay money owed, and are even advised to refrain from seeking emergency care.

It seems that some Accretive Health employees were privy to patients' confidential health data, which could potentially be in violation of federal privacy laws, says the New York Times. According to the Attorney General, these people, by not identifying themselves clearly as debt collecting employees, may be acting illegally.

Accretive Health has clients (hospitals) all over the country.

So far, no action has been brought against Accretive Health. However, the Attorney General said she was liaising with federal and state regulators regarding the company's practices.

An Accretive Health employee's laptop with patient data was stolen last year. In January, 2012, Lori Swanson filed a civil suit against the company because patient privacy protections, as well as federal debt collection laws were allegedly violated. That action is still in process.

Today, Accretive Health Inc shares dropped 29% to $13.42 in afternoon trading on the NYSE (New York Stock exchange). Earlier on during the day, its share-value touched $13.13, an 18-month low.

Debt Buyers: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO) (Video Medical And Professional 2020).

Section Issues On Medicine: Medical practice