Medical billing

Health care's billing service boom

A nurse sits behind a desk in an emergency room with wheelchairs nearby.
Before you get in that wheelchair, how about you fill out some forms? Photo: Michael Stravato/For the Washington Post via Getty Images

Health care's administrative back end — services like verifying patients' insurance, putting patients on payment plans and collecting patient debt — is bigger than ever.

The big picture: The U.S.' fractured insurance system leads hospitals and doctors to spend tens of billions of dollars annually on billing software and services — none of which are tied to actual health care.

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.