Accretive Health, a medical debt collection company, has agreed to pay $2.5 million to the Minnesota state attorney general’s office to settle charges that it had pressured patients to pay for care prior to its delivery, according to the New York Times.
As part of the settlement, Accretive Health is barred from operating in the state for at least two years, effectively ending its business at three Minnesota hospitals. After four years, the company will have to obtain permission from the Minnesota attorney general in order to resume business in the state.
According to the New York Times, investigators found hundreds of Accretive’s internal documents that outlined aggressive collection methods, such as posting debt collectors in emergency rooms where they could pressure patients to pay before treatment. E-mails and internal training manuals revealed that some Accretive employees were told to hound patients to pay outstanding bills and sometimes discouraged patients from receiving care.
According to interviews with current and former Accretive employees done by the New York Times, Accretive pressured its employees to get money from patients. Employees who fell behind on collection quotas feared they might lose their jobs.
In some instances, the employees had access to confidential patient records, which could have been used in persuading patients to pay their overdue bills, a potential violation of federal HIPAA privacy laws.