Jan 22, 2020

Military hospitals are aggressively going after medical debt

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Add the U.S. government to the list of groups going after patients for thousands of dollars in medical debt, per reporting by The Center for Public Integrity and The Atlantic.

How it works: Civilians can receive care at military hospitals in an emergency or if the military hospital offers superior care.

  • Unlike nonprofit and private hospitals, which are supposed to offer charity care to low-income patients, military hospitals are required by the Department of Defense to take "prompt and aggressive action" to settle debts.

The rules surrounding government debt collection are looser than the ones for private debt collectors.

  • Once military hospital debt is transferred to the Treasury Department, the government can withhold patients' wages, tax refunds or 15% of their Social Security income — all without a court order.

My thought bubble: Let's not overlook the irony of lawmakers' outrage over the collection practices of private hospitals and doctors, while the most aggressive collector is the U.S. government.

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Nonprofit hospitals' charity care disparities

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Nonprofit hospitals that did the best financially provided less charity care relative to their income than their less-well-off peers, according to a new study in JAMA.

The big picture: Nonprofit hospitals are required to provide charity care in exchange for their tax-exempt status, but they're increasingly under fire for their aggressive bill collection practices against low-income patients.

Go deeperArrowFeb 18, 2020 - Health

Reality check on Bernie Sanders’ biggest ideas

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Staff

Here’s a look at the odds for 10 of Bernie Sanders’ most ambitious proposals, according to Democratic aides, outside experts and Axios’ issue experts.

Foreign governments continue to shun U.S. government debt

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Foreign private buyers continue to pile onto U.S. government debt while foreign governments again pulled money out, led by China.

What it means: The U.S. Treasury International Capital Report showed a net inflow of $78.2 billion — $134.2 billion of foreign private inflows and net foreign official outflows of $56 billion.