American hospitals turn to bedside, emergency room debt-collectors

In the NYT, Jessica Silver-Greenberg writes about hospitals who "embed" debt-collectors in their emergency rooms and patient care. These debt collectors are indistinguishable from other hospital employees for patients, and they harass recovering patients at their bedsides about their ability to pay, and advise emergency-room patients not to seek care they can't afford. The debt collectors work for Accretive Health, "the nation's largest collectors of medical debts."

To patients, the debt collectors may look indistinguishable from hospital employees, may demand they pay outstanding bills and may discourage them from seeking emergency care at all, even using scripts like those in collection boiler rooms, according to the documents and employees interviewed by The New York Times.

In some cases, the company's workers had access to health information while persuading patients to pay overdue bills, possibly in violation of federal privacy laws, the documents indicate.

Debt Collector Is Faulted for Tough Tactics in Hospitals

(via Naked Capitalism)