It’s actually a thing. Here’s the scenario. You show up in the Emergency Department with, for instance, abdominal pain. Tests show that you need to have your gallbladder taken out. Surgery happens. Then, you get a HUGE bill that you will never be able to pay. When you don’t pay, the hospital sues you to recover the money.
This may be the pinnacle of brokenness in our system. You can, quite literally, go bankrupt from being sick. We’ve known that for a while. But the audacity to file a lawsuit against someone who is already struggling is ridiculous. Add in the inflated price of medical services, and you’ll enter the land of the truly absurd.
Now, there are some heroes in this story. People like Marty Makary (author of The Price We Pay and surgeon too) who are working at the policy level to address this problem and make sure that these lawsuits become a thing of the past. There are advocates. But in order to help, we need to know about the lawsuits.
If you’re being sued by your hospital for not paying a bill, reach out to me and I’ll try to put you in touch with the right people. If enough people push back, the system will change. But you can’t do it alone.