Corporate Compliance

Patients file suit over IL hospital’s billing practices

Compliance Monitor, January 26, 2005

Two former patients at Champaign, IL-based Carle Foundation Hospital filed a lawsuit against the facility on January 24, alleging that it overcharges uninsured patients and is too aggressive in its attempts to collect the money, the Associated Press (AP) reports.

The plaintiffs, who allege the hospital's actions are a violation of the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act, are hoping to collect damages of more than $50,000 and change Carle Foundation's billing practices. The suit also claims that the hospital's billing practices are unfair to uninsured patients, often jacking up the price of care while insurance companies can negotiate with hospitals for lower prices, the AP reports.

"If they're insured or covered by Medicaid or Medicare, they have to pay an amount that is significantly less than if they had no insurance," George Bellas, attorney for the plaintiffs, told the AP.

The hospital asserted its innocence in a written statement, saying "we will aggressively defend against the allegations in this lawsuit and clearly demonstrate the positive effect of Carle Foundation Hospital's charitable mission to our community." The AP reports that the statement also mentioned that similar suits have been thrown out in at least five other states.

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