Confusing hospital bills driving growth in bad debt

David Silverstein’s frustrations trying to understand the hospital charges for his daughter’s sports injuries drove him to consider going to court.
He had the money to pay.
He simply refused because he couldn’t get a Providence Health & Services hospital in Spokane, Wash., where his daughter was away at college, to explain the prices in her bills.
Silverstein was no ordinary consumer. The Denver-area management consultant had clients at more than a dozen hospital systems, including Mount Carmel Health System in Ohio and BayCare Health System in Florida. If anyone could navigate the system, it should have been him.

But each time his daughter’s injuries required an emergency hospital visit — a concussion in a basketball game, a dislocated finger—the former Navy officer became more flummoxed at how flawed the billing system seemed.

“I eventually got on the phone with the hospital CFO,” Silverstein recalled. “I said, ‘What I really want is for you to sue me.’ ” If the hospital sued, at least the hospital’s prices would be disclosed in court.

Officials at the Providence Health, which never sued him, acknowledged the bills were too complicated and said the hospital is working on the industrywide problem.

“The medical billing experience has to take on a […]

By |May 21st, 2017|Collections, Industry News|Comments Off on Confusing hospital bills driving growth in bad debt

Supreme Court Debt Ruling Could Have Healthcare Impacts

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that debt collectors and debt buyers don’t violate federal law when they pursue debts in bankruptcy that exceed state time limits on collection.

On May 15, the high court issued a 5-3 decision in Midland Funding, LLC v. Johnson that filing of a proof of claim that is obviously time-barred “is not a false, deceptive, misleading, unfair, or unconscionable debt collection practice within the meaning of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act,” as Justice Stephen Breyer wrote in the majority opinion.

Breyer was joined in his decision by Chief Justice John Roberts, Jr. and Justices Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito, Jr.

The dissenting opinion was authored by Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

“It takes only the common sense to conclude that one should not be able to profit on the inadvertent inattention of others,” Sotomayor wrote in her dissent, joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan. “It is said that the law should not be a trap for the unwary. Today’s decision sets just such a trap.”

Several industry experts anticipated that the decision will boost collection efforts on old healthcare debts.

Edgars (Edz) Sturans, president and CEO of BillingTree, said in a written statement to HFMA,, “We can […]

By |May 20th, 2017|Collections, Industry News|Comments Off on Supreme Court Debt Ruling Could Have Healthcare Impacts

Medicare Telehealth Set to Expand in Bipartisan Legislative Push

The Senate Finance Committee is expected to soon advance a limited expansion of telehealth in Medicare after a bill received broad bipartisan support this week.

The Chronic Care Act aims to improve the care of Medicare beneficiaries with multiple chronic diseases through several policy changes, including expanded funding for some types of telehealth care. The need for Medicare to focus on chronic illness was highlighted by the program’s spending, 90 percent of which goes toward care of beneficiaries with two or more chronic conditions—such as heart disease and stroke—said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

Specifically, the legislation would expand authorization for beneficiaries on home dialysis to receive required monthly clinical assessments via telehealth, and for patients presenting with stroke symptoms at the hospital to receive remote consultations. Both provisions would begin in 2019.

Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) highlighted the expected benefits of the bill’s telehealth provisions by citing the experience of his state’s Diabetes Telehealth Network, which allows remote patient monitoring. The program monitors the vital signs of patients in Mississippi Delta and brings them in for care when indicated, and has been credited with eliminating emergency department visits among participants in its first year.

“However, Medicare is behind the curve—limiting access to millions […]

By |May 19th, 2017|Medicare/Medicaid|Comments Off on Medicare Telehealth Set to Expand in Bipartisan Legislative Push

 

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