Attorney Richard Scruggs, who is coordinating the federal class action lawsuits against nonprofit hospitals over their billing and collection practices, has suggested that interested citizens ask these questions of their local hospital administrator:
- How much more do you charge the uninsured than patients with HMOs, Medicare, and Medicaid?
- What is your hospital’s cost-to-charge ratio?
- Do you have any system in place to evaluate an uninsured patient’s ability to pay before you send them a bill?
- What is your collections policy? Do you use collection agencies? How long do you wait before deploying them?
- Do you sue patients who can’t afford to pay their bills?
- How much cash and marketable securities are sitting on the hospital’s balance sheet? Why?
- Do you classify uncollected billing as both bad debt and charity care?
- Does the hospital have off-shore accounts? Why?
- Are there for-profit businesses and medical practices operating within the nonprofit hospital?
- How much is the nonprofit hospital CEO receiving in pay?
- Do you have any policies in place to ensure proper board governance?