Following a report that UVA’s medical center had sued 36,000 people over the last six years for unpaid medical bills, the hospital has announced new policies for financial aid and collections. Many more people are likely to receive free care under those rules.
Beginning January first, uninsured patients who make up to 200% of the federal poverty level ($25,000 a year for an individual and $51,500 for a family of four) will not be charged unless they have assets worth more than $50,000 – excluding a home, car and up to 4 acres of land. Hospital spokesman Eric Swensen adds that UVA will also back off on lawsuits.
“We’re only going to file legal claims where a patient owes more than $1,000 and is also making more than 400% of the federal poverty level," he explained. "Four hundred percent of the poverty level for a family of four is $103,000 a year.”
Uninsured patients earning a bit more will see discounts of 40%-60%, and those who have bills pending may want to hold off on payment.
“Starting Monday there will be a phone number for folks to call. They can talk to somebody here and work something out," Swensen advises.
That number is 434-980-6110.
Swensen says University President James Ryan and other high level administrators were not fully aware of how aggressively the medical center had pursued payment. He pledges they will continue to review policies and work toward a more humane and compassionate approach to billing and collections.