Medical debt 'collections machine' restarting in Wisconsin after pandemic pause: report

Some Wisconsin healthcare providers that paused or significantly reduced medical debt collection practices early in the COVID-19 pandemic are "restarting the collections machine," according to an Oct. 11 report from ABC for Health, a nonprofit public interest law firm based in Madison. 

ABC used Wisconsin's Circuit Court Access Program to gather data on the rate of litigation at 29 of the state's healthcare providers over the past six years, according to the report. It compared litigation rates from 2017 to 2019 to rates in the first six months of 2022. Providers studied included a mix of small nonhospital providers — such as ER physician groups and ambulance companies — small and large hospitals and some health systems.   

Three key findings:

1. Of the 29 providers studied, 19 have started collections after pausing them early in the pandemic. 

2. Fifteen of those providers have filed actions at a higher rate than their pre-pandemic levels. 

3. Large hospitals dominated collection actions prior to the pandemic, but recent data shows more litigation from smaller hospitals, clinics, physician groups and other smaller entities.

Read the full report here.

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