post by Bill Gardner
I wrote a post yesterday that began from the premise that health care providers have a duty to provide emergency care, regardless of a person's ability to pay.1
However, it's not so clear that all health care providers know about this duty.
From Tony Kennedy of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:
Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson added more evidence today to her lawsuit against Accretive Health Inc., the Chicago company she has accused of harassing Minnesota hospital patients for money before they received treatment.
In response to Accretive's attempt to have the federal court lawsuit dismissed, Swanson added 10 additional sworn statements to the record from Fairview hospital patients who feared they or their children would not be treated in emergency rooms and other critical care units if they did not immediately make up-front payments as urged, in person, by staff members trained by Accretive.
According to one affidavit, parents waiting for an emergency room psychiatrist to see their crying, suicidal daughter were "demanded" to pay $800. The girl, who was battling symptoms of depression, overheard the collections agent and became even more despondent, the attorney general said in a press release...
There are many ways in which market incentives can significantly improve the efficiency and quality of health care. But health care really isn't just another commodity.
1This was also a premise of Justice Ginsburg's opinion in National Federation of Independent Business v Sebelius, so I am in good company.