7 updates on medical debt

Here are seven study findings, legislative and other actions regarding medical debt that Becker's has reported on since July 20:

1. Iowa hospitals to offer no-interest patient loans

ServiShare, a subsidiary of the Iowa Hospital Association, is partnering with fintech company PayZen to offer no-interest patient loans within the association's network of 117 community hospitals and 17 health systems. All patients at Iowa hospitals offering PayZen who apply are automatically approved for the San Francisco-based company's zero-interest, no-fee payment plans without a credit check, according to an Aug. 9 PayZen news release.

2. Credit score provider to exclude all medical debts from scores

Credit-score provider VantageScore Solutions said it will stop factoring all medical debts that are in collections into its scores, the Wall Street Journal reported Aug. 10. The change is expected to take place in October. The company said millions of people with medical debt in collections could see scores increase by as much as 20 points. 

3. Colorado raises stakes for hospitals that don’t comply with price transparency rule

A Colorado state law prohibiting hospitals from pursuing debt collections against patients if the hospital is not in compliance with federal price transparency laws went into effect Aug. 10. 

4. Hospitals extend billing, collections agreement with Minnesota 

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said July 27 that his office has negotiated an extension of the regulatory agreement that his office holds with the state's nonprofit hospitals.The agreement protects patients from abusive, harassing and deceptive practices from hospitals collecting medical debt. The agreement also provides discounts on certain patients' healthcare services and prohibits unfair billing and collections practices.

5. Some New Mexico hospitals suing over medical debt despite law, report alleges

Some New Mexico hospitals are disregarding a state law requiring them to verify that a patient's income status doesn't fall below 200 percent of the federal poverty line before suing or sending the bill to a collection agency, according to a July 20 NM Political Report article.

6. Illinois county aims to relieve $1B in medical debt 

Officials in Illinois' Cook County hope to use $12 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds to relieve more than $1 billion in medical debt, the Chicago Tribune reported July 21. If approved, the county — home to Chicago — will pay the funds over the next three years to RIP Medical Debt, a nonprofit that purchases and forgives medical debt for pennies on the dollar, according to the report. 

7. Hospitals garnish wages of low-income workers more, New York study finds

New York patients working in low-income occupations were more likely to have their wages garnished to satisfy medical debt judgments, according to a July 20 study from low-income advocacy group Community Service Society of New York.

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