At what point is it a charity case, or simply a matter of someone who can't afford to pay...even making 100k a year and receiving a bill for the same amount can be difficult for one to afford...BD

CHICAGO (Reuters) - For-profit hospitals, which are blaming unpaid medical bills for tamping down profits, are struggling with a simple question: Which patients have the ability to pay their hospital bills?

Driving that issue to the top of their financial agenda is the rising health care tab patients are being asked to shoulder by private health insurers, putting U.S. hospitals increasingly in the undesirable role of debt collector.

"For some people making above $100,000, when they get a hospital bill for $100,000, they may not have the ability to pay," said Gerard Anderson, director of the Center for Hospital Finance and Management at the Johns Hopkins University public health school.

Health Management, which posted an 85 percent plunge in second-quarter profit last week, citing rising bad debt, said it is struggling with when to write off bills as charity care, and when to try to collect even a tiny share of its costs.

Hospitals struggle over who can afford to pay | Reuters


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