Connecticut hospital known for suing patients reviews its debt-collection policies

Danbury (Conn.) Hospital is examining its debt-collection policies in response to a report showing that the nonprofit hospital is the state's most litigious in suing patients, a hospital spokesperson told the Harvard Business Journal.

Spokesperson Andrea Rynn told the media organization that the hospital — which is part of LaGrangeville, N.Y.- and Danbury-based Nuvance Health — provides care 24/7 to anyone, whether they can pay or not, and provided $13.3 million in free care to poor patients last year.

"During that same year, of our hundreds of thousands of encounters, approximately 0.2 percent led to court filings and only after months and even years of outreach through letters, statements and phone calls — all asking if the patient needed financial assistance go ignored," she said. 

"However, we realize this can be overwhelming for some, and so we are currently reviewing our policy," she added. "We continue to encourage any patient facing financial hardship to reach out to our billing office for assistance."

The hospital's pledge to review its debt-collection policies follows a study from a UConn Health researcher.

For the study, Victor Villagra, MD, associate director of the UConn Health Disparities Institute, examined state Superior Court data he received through a Freedom of Information Act request. His analysis found that nearly half of the 13,824 total medical debt cases filed in Connecticut in 2016 involved Danbury Hospital, totaling $8.8 million, Harvard Business Journal reported. 

In 2015 the hospital was responsible for 39 percent of the total 11,747 cases filed in Connecticut, according to Dr. Villagra.

Dr. Villagra looked at debt collection across the state and published some of his research in June. His research, which included legal claims for medical debts of $5,000 or less, did not identify Danbury Hospital as the state's most litigious in terms of suing patients. But he did so recently in a presentation to a state task force that is studying rising deductibles, according to the Harvard Business Journal.


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