Shocking news — people able to pay, pay

More shocking news.  Obamacare is gutting another quintessential American industry that is a world leader without peer — medical debt collection.

Via Bloomberg:

HCA Holdings Inc. (HCA), the largest for-profit hospital chain, yesterday raised its forecast and reported a 6.6 percent drop in uninsured patients at its 165 hospitals, a reduction that grows to 48 percent in four states that expanded Medicaid, a top initiative of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act….

The law contributed as much as $13 million to LifePoint’s earnings in the second quarter, about 40 percent more than the company had expected, he said. People paying bills themselves, a proxy for the uninsured, represented just 4.8 percent of admissions, down from 7.1 percent a year earlier….

Shocking how making sure people have the ability to pay for medical care leads to them paying for medical care on time and close to the contracted rate.  The old system of haphazard payments stretched out over years leading to medical debt stress had to be superior because it created jobs for credit collection agencies to hound people for ridiculous fees, for hospital financial analysts to figure out how to smooth cash flow from good months to bad months, and for social workers to be busy as a medical emergency led to their clients entering a life emergency as every other thing that depended on decent health and pre-committed cash flows just got blown up.  Predictibability is a bad thing for all of these jobs.  We can’t have that as the extra couple of points of GDP spent on waste and passing the buck in healthcare means JOBS (TM) that will never be replaced by higher and better uses of people’s times.

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45 replies
  1. 1
    Linda Featheringill says:

    Wouldn’t it be a shame if people could get medical care without long-term debt, harrassment, and financial ruin?

    Golly.

  2. 2
    Baud says:

    Although BJ doesn’t spend as much time anymore on the rantings of the pure left (yay), over at LGM, there is a post this morning about someone who is still ranting about the evils of Obamacare.

    Oh, and the economy grew 4% last quarter. Of course, that would have been 50% if Obamacare weren’t holding us back.

  3. 3
    Russ says:

    The debt industry will lose jobs no doubt and one counter balance for increased jobs somewhere else is going to be the improvment in people credit scores due to a lack of impacts on their credit rating from less medical collection accounts.

  4. 4
    Karen in GA says:

    But it’s unAmerican! How can people lift themselves up by their bootstraps if they weren’t down to begin with?

  5. 5
    rikyrah says:

    Thank you for bringing this positive news.

  6. 6
    Cervantes says:

    Obamacare is gutting another quintessential American industry that is a world leader without peer — medical debt collection.

    Oh, isn’t that a shame?

  7. 7
    Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism says:

    Why do you want to destroy one of the few jobs that rewards assholes for being assholes?

    /snark

  8. 8
    Snarki, child of Loki says:

    As the debt-collection firms go under, and shed employees, the remaining employees can always find some work harassing their (now unemployed) ex-cow-orkers, for the short time before they too find themselves on the receiving end of the harassment.

    Well, that’s how I’d *like* it to work. More likely, they’ll just take a page from the mortgage fraud banksters, gin up some fake documents, and harass random peons for money.

  9. 9
    Another Holocene Human (now with new computer) says:

    I know you’re being sarcastic, Richard, but socialized risk is just the broken windows fallacy at work. It’s exhibit A in “Why Can’t We Have Nice Things?”

    Wish I could upfist your post. This is good news indeed.

  10. 10
    Another Holocene Human (now with new computer) says:

    @Snarki, child of Loki:

    More likely, they’ll just take a page from the mortgage fraud banksters, gin up some fake documents, and harass random peons for money.

    Pretty sure they do this already. It’s totally against the law but they’re hard to catch and there’s 300,000,000 chances to catch a sucker out there.

  11. 11
    captnkurt says:

    There’s a ton of derp in the comments there, but the very first one was pretty typical:

    and now you start to see what Obama care was really about profits for the insurance and hospitals (and lets not forget the dem.who have huge investments in these companys

    There’s just no upside!

  12. 12
    rikyrah says:

    Rewrite: A new future for girls

    Lawrence O’Donnell looks at how First Lady Michelle Obama is rewriting the vision for girls and women around the globe.

    http://www.msnbc.com/the-last-.....3767491897

  13. 13
    WereBear says:

    @Another Holocene Human (now with new computer): It’s totally against the law but they’re hard to catch and there’s 300,000,000 chances to catch a sucker out there.

    We were getting “mysterious debt, call us to save your credit rating!” calls. I got my timer to re-enter our numbers into the a href=”https://www.donotcall.gov/” rel=”nofollow”>Do Not Call Registry… and they mysteriously ceased.

  14. 14
    rikyrah says:

    A popular piece of legislation that seeks to honor Pope Francis is stuck in Congress.

    With time running out on the Capitol Hill calendar, the lawmakers who crafted the bipartisan measure are getting impatient with Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).

    The resolution, written by Reps. John Larson (D-Conn.) and Pete King (R-N.Y.), congratulates Francis on his March 2013 election and recognizes “his inspirational statements and actions.”

    The seemingly innocuous resolution was referred to the House Foreign Affairs Committee, which hasn’t acted on it. The panel didn’t comment for this article.

    The inaction and the lack of a white smoke signal from Boehner have sparked speculation that politics is at play.

    Only 19 of the 221 co-sponsors are Republicans. The dearth of GOP members on the measure could be attributable to assertions that the pope is “too liberal,” according to a Republican backer of the legislation.

    The source noted that Francis last year denounced “trickle-down economics.”

    Some Republicans believe the pope is “sounding like [President] Obama. [The pope] talks about equality — he actually used the term ‘trickle-down economics,’ which is politically charged,” the GOP official said.

    http://thehill.com/homenews/ho.....z393LoT6wr

  15. 15
    Eric U. says:

    @WereBear: from what I have found, these scams are two-fold. First, they use a loophole(?) in the way phone tariffs are levied to get a little money from your phone company for each call. Second, they occasionally snag a person who just wants to make the calls stop even though they don’t owe the bill. They are crooks, pure and simple. Sometimes there is an actual debt behind the calls, but they are just calling random numbers.

    the number of “honest” debt collectors is swamped by the crooks. The thing that interests me about medical debt collection is that it’s bad for malpractice suits. If someone had a bad outcome and the get sent to collections, they are likely to go after the medical providers.

  16. 16
    WaterGirl says:

    @rikyrah: Your link didn’t work. :-(

  17. 17
    Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism says:

    @Eric U.:

    First, they use a loophole(?) in the way phone tariffs are levied to get a little money from your phone company for each call.

    It’s a deliberate scam by the phone company a lot of these crooks use.

    Every time a phone queries the Caller ID database, the number’s “home company” gets a tiny amount that’s supposed to defray the cost of maintaining the databases. One phone company realized the profit potential in that arrangement and actively solicited telemarketing companies with the promise of splitting that tiny amount with them. Even at a fraction of a penny per call, if you’re using autodialers to make a million calls a day, it adds up.

  18. 18
    Tone In DC says:

    …Only 19 of the 221 co-sponsors are Republicans. The dearth of GOP members on the measure could be attributable to assertions that the pope is “too liberal,” according to a Republican backer of the legislation.

    The source noted that Francis last year denounced “trickle-down economics.”

    Some Republicans believe the pope is “sounding like [President] Obama. [The pope] talks about equality — he actually used the term ‘trickle-down economics,’ which is politically charged,” the GOP official said.

    Just when I think these gas-holes can’t possibly slink any lower, they go and prove me wrong by opening their derp filled mouths.

  19. 19
    Cervantes says:

    @WaterGirl: Use this.

  20. 20
    CONGRATULATIONS! says:

    Just when I think these gas-holes can’t possibly slink any lower, they go and prove me wrong by opening their derp filled mouths.

    @Tone In DC: Rape kids for centuries and nobody says anything. Dare to speak the truth about the obvious source of poverty in the world and suddenly you’re off everyone’s guest list.

  21. 21
    Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism says:

    Since I’m on the Do Not Call List, I assume that anyone who calls me from a number I don’t know is either a politician, a pollster, or a scammer. Because the scammer profit model requires making as many calls as possible, I answer every call. If it’s one of the usual scams like Rachel from Card Services, I let their spiel run through, press the required number, and then lay the phone down in front of the computer, which by that time is running a loop of one of the “babies talking” videos. And I take a bathroom break.

    I actually had one telemarketer still trying to talk the baby into giving the phone to Mommy when I came back.

    I’m also one of the people who loves to get a call from the “Windows Support” scammers. I think my current record of keeping them on the phone is 22 minutes.

  22. 22
  23. 23
    Bubblegum Tate says:

    Boy, I can’t wait for the “Bamacurr took my jerb!” ads!

  24. 24
    NorthLeft12 says:

    Richard, I wonder how many of the hospital and insurance management people, those that really understand what a boon ACA has been for their industry, will vote for Democrats that voted for the ACA versus [what I am assuming] is their usual support of Repubs?

    Especially as the Repubs appear to be a viable threat to undo this modest [I am a Canadian so the ACA is still an abomination to me] achievement.

  25. 25
    Eric U. says:

    @Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism: my favorite is the “can I speak to the person who buys electricity” scammers. I can actually see the power plant where we get our heat and electricity from my desk so the conversations are pretty interesting.

    I got a telemarketer talking to himself once about what a horrible person I was for picking up the phone, that was pretty funny too.

  26. 26
    EconWatcher says:

    @CONGRATULATIONS!:

    Pope Francis almost makes me want to rejoin the Church. If I weren’t an agnostic, that is. Although, to quote from the underrated movie “She’s the One”:

    Father: Watch your mouth. No one talks like that about the Church in my house.
    Son: But dad, you’re an atheist!
    Father: That doesn’t mean I stopped being a good Catholic.

  27. 27
    WaterGirl says:

    @Cervantes: I was looking for a working link to the happy Michelle Obama article. But I did take this opportunity to re-register since I get a million of those annoying “calling about your credit cards” phone calls. Thanks.

  28. 28
    Shakezula says:

    This is a blatant attack on the hard-working Americans who track down the moochers who won’t pay for their emergency cardiac surgery!

  29. 29
    Cervantes says:

    @WaterGirl: That’s pretty funny!

    Sorry for the error, though.

    Try this.

  30. 30
    gene108 says:

    @Tone In DC:

    You do realize the current Pope (a) is a Native Spanish Speaker and (b) comes from the same general part of the world that is trying to take over America with “disease infested plague carrying” children?

    Obviously the Pope is part of the problem.

  31. 31
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @CONGRATULATIONS!: “When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why they are poor, they call me a communist.”

    — Hélder Câmara

  32. 32
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism:

    I got to yell at a telemarketer the other day because they are not allowed to call business numbers with phishing calls (they can only call a business number if they want a specific person). That was fun.

    I also keep wondering if I should pick up the phone when they make those “refinance your mortgage” calls and freak them out by going into a (fake) spiel about how my identity was stolen and I don’t have a mortgage, so I’ll need to get their name and direct line so I can have my lawyer get a deposition from them about the person who got a false mortgage in my name. Not sure if they’ll stay on the line for the whole spiel, though.

  33. 33
    SatanicPanic says:

    @Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism: Sometimes the small victories are the best.

  34. 34
    Amir Khalid says:

    I wonder if there’s a chance of the Republican party crying out, “Pity the debt collectors!”

    By the way, I know that many here are connoisseurs of fine Schadenfreude. You’ll like this.

  35. 35
    Violet says:

    @Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism:

    I’m also one of the people who loves to get a call from the “Windows Support” scammers. I think my current record of keeping them on the phone is 22 minutes.

    I’m with you. I love playing dumb and pretending I can’t figure out where the power button is, asking about the cup holder. I

  36. 36
    SatanicPanic says:

    @Amir Khalid: Did you click through to the Verge link? That was hilarious

  37. 37
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Today in the local fishwrap Rethuglican doctor bimbo Monica Whelby suggests that we replace the “failing” ACA with some other program, which properly makes sure the poors suffer for their poverty even more.

  38. 38
    Seanly says:

    @WereBear:

    Thanks for the reminder to check my registration! However, I only get spam texts on my phone now rather than calls.

  39. 39
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @SatanicPanic:

    A small sample:

    Janet Porter, president and founder of conservative group Faith2Action, started ReaganBook. Her posts began as quiet calls to arms for conservative causes, but as the situation spiraled out of control, she became frantic: “MY SINCERE APOLOGIES FOR THE VILE CONTENT. THIS WILL BE REMEDIED IN A MATTER OF MINUTES.” Below her, “Lord God” commented: “JANET MY DAUGHTER, YOUR PRAYERS ARE GOING STRAIGHT INTO MY SPAM FILTER. PLEASE TEXT ME FOR QUICKER RESPONSE.”

  40. 40
    Amir Khalid says:

    @SatanicPanic:
    Indeed it is. But what surprised me the first time I had a look at ReaganBook was how totally exposed it was to this kind of trolling, and how quickly the trolls came.

  41. 41
    Ripley says:

    Here’s a good little app (Android) for blocking scam ‘n spam (or anyone you’d just rather not hear from): Call Control. The free version limits the number of blacklist items, the (small price) full version has no such limits and works like a charm.

  42. 42
    SatanicPanic says:

    @Amir Khalid: Reminds me of Conservapaedia in its early days. Though it’s impossible to tell what’s parody there anyway

  43. 43
    muddy says:

    @Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism: I got a wonderful one where they wanted me to give “100 to 200 dollars” to sign a petition asking Sarah Palin to run for Senate. Not for the campaign, just just to plead with her to consider it. I kept him on for over 10 minutes, saying crazy tea party shit. I kept upping the ante, I wanted to see if there was a point where they’d draw the line. Happily, no! There wasn’t. He just kept agreeing and asking for smaller amounts of money.

    One of my favorites was when I said it was unfair that all those dirty urban people got public transportation, and we don’t have that here so at least they ought to give me a scooter.

    At the point I could no longer hold the laughter in, I quickly wished him luck in his important work and suggested he call back after my social security check came in. I’m actually surprised they didn’t. Possibly I overplayed my hand, but lordy it was fun.

  44. 44
    Yatsuno says:

    @NorthLeft12: Baby steps. Canada didn’t go single payer all at once. It really took about 20 years.

  45. 45
    IdahoFlaneuse says:

    @Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism: That didn’t work out so well for our phone company. We never called to see who was calling, we just got rid of the phone. So the phone company didn’t get any proceeds AND lost our business.

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