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Hospitals cracking down on patients to recoup debts

May 29, 2012 Philip Burgess

Hospitals, like most everything and everyone else, have been hit hard by the recent recession, and many have taken to more aggressive debt collection tactics to make up budgetary deficiencies. The American Hospital Association reported that in 2010, hospitals incurred about $39 billion in unpaid bills, the Huffington Post states. This marks an 82 percent rise from 2000. "Hospitals are getting more aggressive because they now know that so much more of the bill is going to go uncovered," Sara Rosenbaum, a professor at George Washington University's law school, tells the news source. "The value of our coverage is shrinking and it's leaving us exposed to very, very high out-of-pocket costs, which, of course, are insurmountable for all but the wealthiest people." A U.S. Census graph shows that the number of uninsured individuals rose to about 50 million in 2010, or just over 16 percent of Americans. Furthermore, the Commonwealth Fund revealed that 26 percent of people ages 16 to 64 had no health insurance for at least part of 2011, notes the Huffington Post in a separate article. Failure to pay hospital bills can result in insurmountable debt, which can tarnish one's consumer credit report and possibly result in bankruptcy.