Where Does It Hurt and Where Is Your Checkbook?

Abby Zimet

One of the nation’s largest medical debt-collection companies has been charged by Minnesota's Attorney General with strong-arming people in emergency rooms and other hospital departments - including delivery rooms - for money before they can be treated. The Chicago-based Accretive Health Inc. train their “financial counselors” to track patients with outstanding balances on “stop lists” and hassle them when they turn up at the E.R. until they pay what they owe. Records show the company's income rose 130 percent last year; the level of care at those hospitals, as sick people declined to seek treatment, sank. Tell us again why we don't need universal health coverage.

"The Accretive culture has converted the hospital culture from that of a charitable organization to that of a collection agency. Perhaps the most damaging act by Accretive was to undermine the basic premise that a hospital is a sanctuary to treat the sick and infirm.''

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