Car Crash? Hospitals Now Immediately Seize Property To Guarantee Payment

Some hospitals in the US are completely bypassing patient insurance or Medicare when involved in a car crash. Instead, they go right for putting liens on patient’s homes or insurance settlement payments.  These are great ways for hospitals to make sure they get paid. And for usually more than insurance companies allow. But it completely sucks for crash victims. 

Some hospitals in the US go right for assets and other means to collect payment

A car crash scene from 'Chicago Fire'
A car crash scene from ‘Chicago Fire’ | Getty

To make sure a car crash victim taken to a hospital repays what is owed certain hospitals in the US are going for a victim’s assets. In fact, by seizing insurance settlements the victim is left with no monetary compensation after an accident. And by seizing assets the hospital can charge much more because it is not bound by insurance caps for procedures, supplies, and other hospital expenses. 

The New York Times broke the practice, using Fort Wayne, Indiana’s Parkview Hospital system. It’s a non-profit operating in the second-highest city for healthcare prices in the US. This practice may partially be the reason why. But besides guaranteeing payment to bypass insurers the hospital is then not contractually obligated to discount charges to big health insurers. 

An example given was a woman in a crash on Medicaid. The price Medicaid pays for the services Parkview provided would have been $2,500. By going for a lien the hospital charged $12,856 instead. Parkview says Medicare is not health insurance but instead government assistance. To its way of seeing it, Parkview was entitled to gobble up as much of the accident victim’s worth as it could get. All this because the crash victim was sent to Parkview for her injuries. 

“Patients should be held accountable for medical bills rather than rely on the government”

Getty

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The Times says, “The hospital contended that patients should be held accountable for their medical bills rather than relying on the government. By forcing hospitals like Parkview to submit their charges to the state-administered Medicaid program, the court will ignore the public policy goals of holding individuals responsible for their actions, Parkview argued.”

Ultimately, a judge rejected Parkview’s view of its creative compensation program. Some examples had head-injury car crash victims signing forms bypassing their insurance setting themselves up for property being seized. A Community Health Systems hospital in Tennessee denied a veteran’s insurance so it could file liens against the vet’s home. This was done to charge more for services. 

“I could cut off a finger and the V.A. would cover it”

2004 Porsche crash | Getty

“I could cut off a finger and the V.A. would cover it,” the Army vet said. “The insurance is just that good. The worst part was the nearly constant collection calls that made me feel like a real deadbeat.”  The veteran is now part of a lawsuit against the hospital, Tennova Healthcare Clarksville. The lawsuit accuses it of predatory lien practices. Ann Metz, a spokeswoman for Tennova, said “Tennessee state law allows hospitals to file provider liens as a way to ensure that health care providers can be paid for treatment.”

Want more? Injured drivers and passengers in the US between 2000 and 2013 experienced increases in costs 90% above medical inflation for other causes. This according to Crain’s Detroit Business. “Medical costs are going up anyway, but when you have a blank check it is not surprising that people are taking advantage of that,” said state Rep. Lana Theis, chair of the House Insurance Committee.

Yet we’re continually reminded the US has the best healthcare system in the world. Yeah, right.