North Carolina health system settles with blind patient over billing accessibility issue

Rocky Mount, N.C.-based Nash UNC Health Care settled a lawsuit on behalf of a blind patient who did not receive his medical bills in Braille and therefore was not aware how much he owed the health system, according to a Dec. 7 Spring Hope Enterprise report.

After receiving emergency medical care at one of Nash UNC Health Care's hospitals, John Bone was pursued by collection agencies for medical debts he was unaware he had to pay. Mr. Bone did not know about this debt because Nash UNC Health Care did not provide him with his bills in Braille, either not in a timely manner or at all, according to Mark Riccobono, president of the National Federation of the Blind.

"With today's technology, providing bills, medical records and treatment instructions in alternative formats, such as Braille and large print, is readily achievable,” Mr. Riccobono told Spring Hope Enterprise. "We believe this settlement sends a strong message that medical providers should take this legal and moral obligation seriously. We are happy to work with health care entities who want guidance in providing medical information in accessible formats."

Under the settlement agreement, Mr. Bone received $150,000 in damages, attorney fees and forgiveness of debt, according to the National Federation of the Blind and Disability Rights.

"We believe we're in full compliance with all applicable legal requirements," Dorsey Tobias, Nash UNC Health Care’s executive director of marketing, communications and strategy told the newspaper.

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