Many hospitals and health systems are struggling to meet their missions with lower revenue and they're prepping for even steeper cuts. The logical conclusion many senior leaders seem to be coming to is that they need to make every effort, up to and including suing their patients, to recover unpaid balances.
These balances, in many cases, are as much as twice as high as what would have been paid on behalf of this group of "self-pay" patients if they had been properly enrolled in Medicare, Medicaid or a commercial insurance plan. The challenges that cause these aggressive, and sometimes illegal, collection tactics are numerous, but the most aggravating thing about them is that there's just not much revenue at stake, on a relative basis.
So hospitals end up not getting little or nothing in revenue, as they already were, but they're actually getting less than nothing as word gets out about these aggressive tactics. Especially for nonprofits, it's a dangerous game.
It appears many CEOs have forgotten the lessons of eight years ago. They should have learned that their leadership position can easily be undermined when these strong-arm tactics come to light. So why does this continue to happen? I'm not naïve. They see a shrinking margin and no apparent way to resolve it.