Hospitals say more insured patients can’t pay

Philadelphia Inquirer, August 13, 2010

It's no surprise that the struggling economy has made it harder for hospitals to collect money from patients who have lost their jobs - and their health insurance. But a local hospital group says the fastest-growing part of what hospitals call "bad debt" - basically, uncollectible bills - is money owed by patients who have insurance. As employers dump costs onto workers, so now are workers dumping costs onto hospitals. Because of rising deductibles and cost-sharing rules, patients are increasingly faced with bills that would have been unusual for someone with insurance a few years ago. Growing numbers of them can't pay, or won't. Total bad debt grew 12%, from $490 million in fiscal 2007 to nearly $550 million in fiscal 2008, at 36 area hospitals that responded to a 2009 survey by the Delaware Valley Healthcare Council of HAP. But bad debt from insured patients grew twice as fast: 28%, from $76 million to $97 million. In a different survey that drew responses from 19 hospitals, the percentage of bad debt attributable to patients with insurance rose from 20% in 2007 to 30% last year.






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