'The follow-up appointment': Many times, ER visits lead to the courtroom


Patients are increasingly struggling to pay their medical bills, making it even harder for hospitals to collect debt they're owed.

Some hospitals, particularly those in rural communities, have turned to legal action against patients to resolve issues over medical debt. These financially struggling facilities often grapple with higher levels of uncompensated care, due to factors such as lower incomes among residents in the communities they serve and more uninsured people.

This includes Popular Bluff (Mo.) Regional Medical Center, where suing patients has become prevalent, and prompted some people to refer to court visits as "the follow-up appointment," according to The Washington Post.

The newspaper reported Aug. 18 that Popular Bluff Regional has filed more than 1,100 debt-collection lawsuits against patients so far in 2019.

Part of the issue involves emergency room care. According to the Post, most of the 19 debt-collection lawsuits over medical bills scheduled in court on a recent Wednesday were for Popular Bluff Regional patients who were treated in the emergency room and then received a court summons after not paying for more than 60 days. 

When lawsuits like the ones brought by Popular Bluff Regional are brought to court, patients and hospitals may end up resolving the issue through negotiation, or the court may issue a default judgement in favor of either side. Some cases also end up being decided by a jury.

Read the Post's full report here.


More articles on healthcare finance:

For-profit hospital stock report: Week of Aug. 12-16
ICD-10-PCS changes: 20 codes added for FY 2020
ICD-10-PCS changes: 20 codes deleted for FY 2020

Copyright © 2021 Becker's Healthcare. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy. Cookie Policy. Linking and Reprinting Policy.


Featured Whitepapers

Featured Webinars