How some hospitals bill in cases of accidents
by jerry on February 06, 2021
The New York Times published a troubling article on how some hospitals choose to bill accident victims. Apparently, instead of billing the victims' insurance companies, some hospitals will file a lien on the proceeds from the accident. This practice allows hospitals to charge their full retail price instead of the rates negotiated by insurance companies. Accident victims could be expecting to use the proceeds from the accident for other purposes (e.g. time off of work for recovery). The article describes how some hospitals engage in this practice despite being shown an insurance card by the patient or having patients sign a form upon arrival that commits them to paying out of the accident's settlement.
Hospital spokesmen will defend this practice as simply maximizing their revenue. Yet, especially in cases where the patients shows his or her insurance card and expects his or her insurance to pay, it seems unethical to charge the full retail price. Even showing patients a form to sign upon arrival from an accident without explaining the financial consequences seems dubious. Hospitals who persist in this practice will likely draw the attention of legislators or regulators, similar to how surprise medical billing has garnered enough attention to get banned.