A recent New York Times article highlighted the hidden practices of hospitals that refuse to bill medical insurance for patients’ treatment after an accident injury.
Hospitals are legally and contractually obligated to offer discounts on services to insurers, especially government-provided health insurance programs like Medicare and Medicaid. In order to make more profit, some hospitals file a lien against the patient for the full cost of the services, as though the patient were uninsured.
Hospital liens became legally allowed before most Americans had health insurance. These liens were intended to protect hospitals from going unpaid for care. Today, the practice is often used by wealthy hospitals to bill patients for the full cost of care, even when these patients have insurance and have repeatedly provided insurance information for billing purposes. Some of the patients interviewed in the article even had more than one health insurance policy that the hospital refused to bill.
The New York Times shared specific insight into Indiana’s hospital lien laws. In 2010, Indiana’s state legislature passed a law that hospitals must bill insurance before pursuing debts with a lien. But at the last minute, Medicare was removed from the legislation.
This led to Fort Wayne’s Parkview Hospital bypassing patients’ Medicare, claiming the program is “government assistance” rather than health insurance. Even as recently as June 2020 the hospital tried to argue that Medicaid is not health insurance. The hospital faced at least nine lawsuits related to these billing practices. Though its chief legal officer told the New York Times they are no longer filing liens against Medicaid patients, the past damage done by these practices at Parkview and other hospitals has already been perpetrated, and the hospitals have pocketed the profits.
If you suffered injury in an accident and are now facing liens from a hospital that refuses to bill your insurance, the attorneys at Christie Farrell Lee & Bell can help. Contact us to share your story and get a trusted advocate on your side.