Carmelita Swain’s kids play a lot of sports, so X-rays are a part of life.
What the Tacoma woman didn’t expect was for someone from MultiCare to call her just a week after her two sons were treated at Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital and demand immediate payment of the $3,000 bill or it would be sent to collections.
“I have Tricare,” Swain said Wednesday, referring to the insurance she receives through the U.S. military as a retired Army medic. MultiCare “told me it wasn’t covered and I had to pay the bill that day.”
Swain’s story was one of a handful featured in a critical report issued Wednesday by Washington CAN, a community organization. The report focuses on two aspects of MultiCare’s collections: “traumatic” point-of-service billing — collecting payment from patients while they’re still in the hospital for treatment — and of “aggressively” garnishing wages and charging unreasonably high interest on medical debt. Read more here
In January 2009, MultiCare Health System did all it could to save the life of a 6-year-old boy who’d been grievously injured at a monster truck show at the Tacoma Dome.
Eleven months later, the regional health-care giant sued Sebastian Hizey’s estate to recoup as much money as possible for the services it provided to the boy, who died despite the care he received at Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital.
Internal documents made public as part of an ongoing, unrelated lawsuit against MultiCare show there were two reasons for the decision to ignore the boy’s insurance coverage and go after a settlement his estate ultimately received from the organizers of the monster truck show.
First, MultiCare officials thought they could get more money from the settlement than from Medicaid, perhaps thousands more. Read more here
Low-income patients in Tacoma have sued MultiCare, alleging the hospital system failed to screen them for free or discounted care before sending them to debt collectors.
Joncee Hull and Sharon Shrout argue in their class action that they were underinsured, couldn’t afford the MultiCare bills for treatment at Tacoma General Hospital and Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital and should have qualified for so-called “charity care” under state law.
MultiCare subjected “uninsured and underinsured patients to collection efforts without first affirmatively screening them to determine their financial eligibility for free or discounted hospital care,” the lawsuit alleges. Read more here