Report Shows UVA Medical Center Using Aggressive Tactics to Collect on Unpaid Bills

Sep 10, 2019

The University of Virginia’s medical center says it’s doing a comprehensive review of its financial assistance policies and will have an announcement Friday. 

The news comes after Kaiser Health News slammed the hospital for suing thousands of patients, taking their wages, savings and homes. 

Kaiser Health documents 36,000 lawsuits by the UVA Medical Center in a six-year effort to collect from patients who have not paid for their care.
Credit RadioIQ

Kaiser Health studied courthouse documents from 2012 to 2018, trying to figure out how many patients were sued when they failed to pay hospital bills. After nearly 12 months, reporters Jay Hancock and Elizabeth Lucas concluded there was a lawsuit machine in Charlottesville.

“Over the six year period we found that there were more than 36,000 lawsuits against former UVA Medical Center patients," Hancock says. "The combined amount sued for was more than $100 million.” 

He adds that  people who lacked insurance were often charged much more than people who had health coverage, and it was extremely difficult to get financial aid from UVA.

“UVA Medical Center had an extraordinarily difficult financial assistance program to qualify for.  You had to have income below 200% of the federal poverty level, and you had to have assets below $3,000-$4,000 or so, including equity in your house.”

The med center claims to provide $322 million in charity care and financial aid, but Hancock spoke with experts who felt that number was greatly inflated.

The CEO of UVA’s medical center announced Tuesday that she will leave for a job in New York in November. 

UVA President Jim Ryan said in an internal email that the decision was in no way connected with the billing policies.

***Editor's Note: The University of Virginia is a financial supporter of Radio IQ.