Yale-New Haven To Reconsider Collection Practices, Wall Street Journal Reports
In a followup to a profile published last month of an uninsured man struggling to pay medical bills accumulated from his now-deceased wife's cancer treatments, the Wall Street Journal today reports that Yale-New Haven Hospital will forgive Quinton White's $40,000 debt and will start to examine other collection cases. White, a retired dry cleaner from Bridgeport, Conn., whose wife was treated for cancer at Yale-New Haven in 1982, was left after his wife's death in 1993 with a hospital bill that "ballooned" to about $40,000 because of 10% interest charges, legal fees and other costs (Lagnado, Wall Street Journal, 4/1). When White could not pay the hospital bill, attorneys for Yale-New Haven placed a lien on his house and "nearly cleaned out" his bank account, the Journal reported (California Healthline, 3/13). However, following a March 13 Journal profile of White, Yale-New Haven said it would forgive White's debt and have the lien on his house removed. Hospital spokesperson Katherine Krauss said Yale-New Haven is beginning to look at other collection cases in which patients and their families have been paying off debts for extended periods of time. Krauss said the hospital's efforts signal the start of a process that could result in substantial changes, adding that the hospital wants "processes in place so that hospital staff are aware of and involved in periodic reviews," even after debts are transferred to collection agencies. "I suspect every hospital in the country has problems like this, so the goal is to find a solution for uninsured hospital care," Krauss said. Andrew Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union, which has been researching Yale-New Haven's collection practices, said, "It is a disgrace that they have to 'review' the practices -- they should stop them" (Lagnado, Wall Street Journal, 4/1).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.