State bans medical bill collection company | BrainerdDispatch.com | Brainerd, Minnesota

State bans medical bill collection company

Posted: August 1, 2012 - 4:25pm

While admitting nothing, Accretive Health, a huge national bill collector for medical debt was hit with a $2.5 million fine by the State of Minnesota.

It agreed to pay the fine to settle accusations that it violated federal law requiring patients pay for service even if the patient wouldn’t afford the care received.

Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson rode herd on Accretive Health following accusations from a number of patients who claimed the credit collection company hounded them in the emergency room or while patients were sick in the hospital.

According to Swanson’s office of the 60 patients that filed complaints and followed up with written statements, only two patients did not have insurance.

Whether the claims against the company were true or baseless, Accretive Health will not be doing business in the state for a minimum of three years, according to the settlement.

According to the New York Times, the “civil suit was filed in January after a laptop with patient information was stolen, saying that the company had violated state and federal debt collection laws and patient privacy protections.”

Accretive Health is one of the nation’s largest collection agencies used by the nation’s largest hospitals to collect unpaid bills that have accumulated during the financial crisis and the economic downturn, the Times reported.

While no one wishes to drive a company out of business, the actions alleged to have occurred by this collection agency were unacceptable if not illegal. For a company to claim no wrongdoing in a settlement is legalese for “yes, we did everything alleged, but we’re not going to say one word on the record.”

Companies like Accretive Health should be banned from conducting business in Minnesota and anywhere else these kinds of shakedowns are occurring. Unfortunately, the ban of this one company may cost more than 100 employees their jobs in Minnesota.

Keith Hansen