Hospital finance

At hospital nonprofits, lawsuits frequently target former patients

A patient waiting to leave the hospital
Photo: Darren Kemper/Corbis/VCG/Getty Images

Nonprofit hospitals are aggressive about suing patients to collect unpaid bills — in some ways, even more aggressive than their for-profit counterparts.

Driving the news: 36% of Virginia hospitals sued former patients and garnished their wages in 2017, according to a new study. And nonprofit hospitals account for the lion's share of those suits.

Sanford, UnityPoint propose giant hospital system merger

Buildings with the Sanford signage on top.
Most of Sanford Health's hospitals and clinics are in the Dakotas and Minnesota. Photo: Sanford Health

Sanford Health and UnityPoint Health have agreed to merge, a move that would create a 76-hospital, tax-exempt system with $11 billion in revenue and an influential position throughout the Midwest and Great Plains.

Why it matters: Regional hospital systems merging into super-regional behemoths has been the trend for the past several years. But studies continue to show the combinations often to lead to higher prices and premiums for patients as the systems gain greater market power over health insurers.