Lexington Medical Center blog written by Columbia bankruptcy attorney Daniel Stone
It has become common knowledge among local bankruptcy practitioners in Columbia, SC that Lexington Medical Center is causing patients to file for bankruptcy. While few would dispute a hospital getting paid, Lexington Medical Center has become one of the most aggressive hospitals in South Carolina in its collection practices. The most aggressive collection practice Lexington Medical has its GEAR Program which allows the hospital to seize patients’ South Carolina tax refund with little to no adjudication process. Most of my bankruptcy clients are unaware of who took their tax refund or that they had a right dispute it. Many of these same clients had issues or problems with their medical care at Lexington Medical Center but felt powerless in fighting the hospital’s billing department.
In addition to Lexington Medical Center’s aggressive collection activities, many of my clients have been unhappy with their medical care at the hospital. I have experienced the poor medical customer service first hand multiple times. My wife who is hispanic went to Lexington Medical Center multiple times this past fall. On one occasion the billing department tried to get my wife to sign a document by flipping the corner of a page backwards without showing her the important medical and contractual terms on the opposite side. Essentially what they were trying to do was get her to sign all the documents without giving her an opportunity to read it. When my wife and I protested, the employee stormed out the room. If this is a usual practice at Lexington Medical Center, this means hundreds if not thousands of patients are signing documents they are not given a chance to read.
Harvard has published a resent and well publicized study showing medical debt is a leading cause of bankruptcy filings. That being said, Lexington Medical Center’s aggressive collection methods have added fuel to the fire. In my experience, the patients who have been hurt the most by these aggressive collection tactics are the elderly, women, and minorities.
What does this mean for you? If you currently have a physician at Lexington Medical Center you feel comfortable with, you should stick with this doctor even with the aggressive billing. Your health is most important. But if you are comparing other local hospitals when trying to make a decision on where to go for medical care, Lexington Medical Center’s aggressive billing and overall customer service should be a factor. If you have a story to report – either good or bad, please feel free to email me.
One final note. Lexington Medical has hundreds of highly skilled and devoted employees. This blog is only about the collection and billings procedures. I am one of many who are thankful for the many employees at Lexington Medical that devote their lives to make ours better.