As a growing number of hospitals struggle under a glut of unpaid bills, they are turning to companies like Accretive – one of the nation’s largest medical debt-collection companies. Hospitals turn over the management of their front-line staffing — ranging from patient registration to scheduling and billing — and their back-office collection activities to help reduce their costs.
The New York Times is reporting that hospital patients waiting in the emergency room or convalescing after surgery could find themselves confronted by an unexpected visitor: a debt collector at bedside.
Accretive is accused of sending employees into emergency rooms and other departments at two hospitals and demanding that patients pay before receiving treatment. The report also says that the company used patient health records inappropriately.
Since January, it has faced a civil lawsuit filed by Attorney General Lori Swanson of Minnesota alleging that it violated state and federal debt-collection laws and patient privacy protections. The actions may lead to a widespread crackdown on Accretive Health’s practices in other states.
The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the attorney general’s findings.
Read the full NY Times article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/25/business/debt-collector-is-faulted-for-tough-tactics-in-hospitals.html?_r=1&hp.