By Consumers For Quality Care, on August 8, 2019
Glens Falls Hospital in New York is the latest to receive scrutiny over its legal actions against patients. The hospital is suing dozens of former patients in civil court over unpaid medical bills, The Post Star reports. The report comes after similar practices by hospitals in Maryland, Tennessee, and Virginia have been called into question.
The hospital has sent summonses to 26 patients since June 1, a large uptick since January and February of this year, when the hospital sent nine summonses. The traffic of cases coming from the hospital has increased so much that the Glens Falls City Court is now automatically sending the cases to mediation.
For those who lose, the cost could be high. The court has tacked on $600 for court costs plus interest of more than 10 percent on the original bill.
The court says that, in the past, patients would not typically respond to the summons and the judge would issue a judgment against the patients. However, things have changed in recent weeks. Consumers are starting to fight back against the summonses.
Steve McIntosh responded to his with a typed response, saying that the bill in question was not his own. The outstanding bill was $1,800 for a blood test.
He went on to say that he wrote the hospital to dispute the bill after it was sent to him a year ago, but the hospital only sent him the bill again. Then he called and was told it was for a blood test.
McIntosh says he did not receive a blood test during the time period in question and that his insurance company never received the bill either.
“I really don’t know what else to say in my defense other than I am defenseless against these ruthless lawyers for the hospital. My family and I will never go there again for anything after this nightmare,” he said.
He believes that the bill is an error. Glens Fall Hospital has had a number of billing issues in the recent years. The facility changed computer software in November 2016 and had issues getting its bills out during the following 20 months. Insurers denied more than $38 million in claims from the hospital in 2017 and 2018, because they were delivered too late. After the insurers denied the bills, Glens Fall tried to send them to consumers. Other bills had incorrect information provided.
McIntosh believes the bill he received is a product of these errors.
“Glens Falls Hospital has recently publicly admitted to major billing mistakes and financial trouble. This must be one of their mistakes,” he said.
Mediators from Mediation Matters of Saratoga are helping consumers settle the bills with the hospital’s debt collectors. For many, this means setting up a payment plan, says Program Coordinator Will Siegel-Swama. Others are getting creative.
“We give people the space to talk about whatever is going on, and to find solutions that are going to work for all the parties in the room.” …
“If there’s somebody in the community who has a service and they want to do some bartering, anything is up for discussion at the table,” he said.