Hospitals are required to provide services without consideration of ability to pay. They are still businesses that have to generate money in order to operate. The process of selling uncollected bills (factoring) allows them to generate the funds necessary to their continued operation.
Hospitals should be afforded the same legal right to sell debt that is granted to other businesses.
I think that, in today's world, it is close to impossible to expect anything less from hospitals. Sick patients obviously need as much care as they can get, and their social status should have no reason to limit their care. Hopefully, there will be answers to this in the near future.
Everyday businessmen buy and sell debt in the search for liquidity or a quick buck. However, when hospitals do this, people view the practice as morally wrong. Hospitals, like any other business, need money in order to operate. If their patients are not paying their bills and the hospital gets into trouble with liquidity, they should have the right, just like any other business, to sell this debt for money.
U.S. hospitals are justified in selling patients' unpaid bills to banks, credit-card companies and other financial concerns because they have performed a service. Payment for that service is the sole responsibility of the recipient of the service. Any subsequent charges like interest or collection fees are also the responsibility of the recipient.
We need hospitals. We can not afford to continue to operate hospitals in the way we are now doing. In America, everyone connected to the health care system is a "victim". This includes patients, doctors, nurses, states, and yes, hospitals. The only groups not only surviving, but surviving with windfall profits year after year, are the insurance companies and the malpractice attorneys. Our health care system is a disaster. Some like to say that "America has the best health care" in the world. Our child birth rates are not the highest. Our obesity and diabetes rates are among the highest. We have well-trained medical specialists. We have incredibly effective technology. Yet, we are not the healthiest. If you are wealthy in America, then you will, indeed, have the "best care in the world". If you are poor, out of work, uninsured for whatever reason, your health care will range from that equalling third world nations, to being non-existent. Unless you are poor enough to fit into one of the patchwork of public assistance programs that provides some health care, and you don't have insurance, you just don't go to the doctor. We need change. This is no way to run a country.
This is a sad example of the failure of our health care system, that it costs so much for us to use it. That said, people deserve to get paid for the services they render. When they cannot collect for said services, they should be able to avail themselves of all the legal means out there to collect what is rightfully theirs.
Well it is simple economics-- if a patient reneges on their financial obligations to the hospital, the hospital has lost money to pay payroll, operating costs, insurance, etc... The hospital has also lost resources in treating the patient and in essence has "thrown money away". Health care is a business; therefore, if clients do not pay... the business shuts down and people lose both jobs and a place to receive medical treatment.
Hospitals these days have a general lack of funds and trying to collect on debts owed to them only helps to deplete already dwindling funds. It would save them money in the long run if they seek outside services to get the money back that is owed. I would not consider it a privacy issue because the third party would have to keep the information used to collect debts confidential.
Not only do unpaid bills cut directly into a hospital's funding but hospitals also spend millions of dollars trying to collect unpaid bills. Those who truly cannot afford health care should be able to apply for aid but for those who take advantage of the system and simply refuse to pay their bills, those extra costs are passed on to the rest of us.
If a hospital is going to provide medical services to the community they need to be paid. Selling unpaid accounts is considered an acceptable practice for any other business. People don't expect to get other services for free. Many hospitals need the cash flow that selling those accounts provides to stay open. People would be even more upset about the hospitals not being available than they are about their unpaid bills being sent to collections.
U.S. hospitals are not justified in selling patients' unpaid bills to banks and credit-card companies which collect the money from the patients and charge interest because most people who don't pay their medical bills just don't have the money. It's greedy and wrong to sic collection companies after people who are struggling with their medical bills. Hospitals are in the business of helping sick people, not to make interest off of people's hardships. The hospitals should work with the patients directly, and be patient with them. Many people don't have health insurance because it costs too much.
Hospitals do not only sell bad debt to creditors as a last resort. Many are selling good debt that they made under an agreement to the patients which allowed monthly payments; once sold to other companies, the terms of the debts are changed with the patient's only option being to pay the entire bill all at once or make the previously-agreed upon payments but now with interest rates and fees. Further, this is a situation where something often out of a person's control - their health - is of vital importance but costs thousands of dollars they do not have. It's shameful that people can be ruined financially simply because they needed healthcare.
Allowing creditors to buy overdue patient bills may discourage the uninsured or under-insured from seeking treatment in the future, and that could potentially endanger lives. For that reason, I do not believe that hospitals are justified in selling their uncollected debts.
I believe that any service should be paid for, however, people often have no choice in seeking medical help. When hospitals sell bills to other companies for collection, and these companies charge interest, it makes the burden of paying the bill back even heavier. When a bill is going unpaid, there is generally a reason (for example, financial hardship). Charging interest on a bill that a person is already having a hard time paying on is only going to make the bill harder to pay and make it less likely that the bill will be paid.
These other institutions have no right to charge interest in the first place, because they aren't the ones who provided the service. In the second place, hospitals have trouble collecting debt because they are unwilling to work with patients for a solution that is affordable to the ones who owe. If hospitals won't bend just a bit and allow patients to pay what they can reasonably afford in order to reduce the debt, then they really have no grounds for selling the account to a ruthless organization that will hound the debtor to their grave.
It's immoral for hospitals to resort to paying agencies to collect their unpaid bills. Hospitals should work something out with the patient, maybe lowering the bill or creating a payment plan. Some hospitals rather see some of the money than none of it. If the patient can't pay the bill, charging interest certainly isn't going to help them do so.
This country needs to provide for its citizens the basic health care that almost all other advanced countries offer. We are one of the richest countries in the world, yet people claim we can't afford national health care. People have been driven into bankruptcy, lost homes, and gone out of business due to medical emergencies.