UVA changes billing policy, releases patient liens

University of Virginia Health (UVA) announced changes to its billing policies that are based on patients’ ability to pay. The new practices will release all liens and judgements for patients below 400% of the federal policy level. The income threshold varies by the number of household members, but for example a family of four that makes less than $106,000 a year would qualify.

 

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The health system has been going after people for unpaid bills for decades, according to a report by Kaiser Health News.

During a stretch of six years ending in 2018, the health system and its doctors filed 36,000 lawsuits for more than $106 million. The system went so far as to seize bank accounts and wages and put liens on property and homes.

Douglas E. Lischke, UVA Health’s chief financial officer, said the health system is committed to all community members.

“We are committed to providing high-quality, compassionate care to all community members and these new policies and practices uphold our commitment.”

The decision was made with the help of a local community advisory council. Additionally, UVA Health considered a study of national hospital peers’ billing and collection practices for low-income, underserved and underinsured patients to inform the new policy.

Though debts will be forgiven, most of the money already surrendered by affected patients will not be refunded, according to the Washington Post.