So, the uninsured patient doesn’t pay the bill because they don’t have the money. Then the hospital unleashes the collection agency and everything starts spiraling out of control.
If this sounds familiar to you – you are not alone. In fact, attorney Kramer from the Law Office of Barry Kramer in Los Angeles, California believes there are literally hundreds of thousands of people out there with emergency room bills they can’t pay.
This is a familiar story to Kramer. He specializes setting things straight relieving people of scary hospital bills. Kramer says the reality is the patient has often been overcharged. In fact, they have been so massively overcharged that it is the hospital that should be on the run from the patient.
“This goes on at hundreds of hospitals all across the country all the time,” says Kramer. “About 10 or 15 percent of all patients arrive in an emergency room without insurance...Many uninsured people just walk away from these bills. They ignore them. Their credit is ruined. They end up in bankruptcy and it is very detrimental to their lives."
“The patient hasn’t paid the bill and they are reluctant to bring an action against the hospital.”
Kramer argues that hospitals deliberately inflate the bills for uninsured patients and that these people are usually asked to sign open ended contracts upon arrival in the emergency room that allows hospitals to take advantage of uninsured patients in this way. “There is often no price that is agreed upon,” Kramer says.
Kramer flips it around, turns the unpaid bill into a consumer complaint and takes the hospital to court for overcharging uninsured patients. He’s does it regularly and he says he does it with a great rate of success. The difficult part, however, Kramer says, is convincing people with unpaid bills to realize they have a case.
“The patient hasn’t paid the bill and they are reluctant to bring an action against the hospital,” says Kramer.
“The best people for me to work with are the uninsured. Sometimes people with unpaid hospital bills do not want to get involved in an action. They think ‘well how can I complain and get involved in an action when I didn’t pay anything?' But they have every right to complain about a bill that is not justified. They should complain before their credit rating is ruined or there are other negative consequences of just ignoring it.
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“The best people for me to work with are the uninsured.”
“Meanwhile, the hospital is yelling that the stiff that never paid his bill is suing them. Hospitals just don’t want to admit that the bill itself was outrageously over inflated and that’s why it didn’t get paid,” Kramer says.
"However hospitals have 'a secret internal rate list'.
“They claim everyone is charged the same, but it really isn’t true. They have side agreements with insurers, or Medicaid. So if you are other than uninsured you pay less. It is a system that is really unfair to the uninsured,” he says. “And it is the uninsured with unpaid hospital bills that I can help.”