Number of health systems allegedly denying care to indebted patients grows

Nick Thomas (Twitter) – Updated Friday, June 23rd, 2023

While Minneapolis-based Allina Health was highlighted by The New York Times for pulling back from its policy of denying nonemergency care to some indebted patients, a recent investigation showed it is not the only health system to allegedly have engaged in the practice. According to KFF Health News, about 20 percent of nationwide hospitals in a random sample pursued similar policies of care denial.

The Lown Institute went further, naming major health systems including Rochester, Minn.-based  Mayo Clinic, St. Louis-based Ascension, Indianapolis-based Indiana University Health, Livonia, Mich.-based Trinity Health and Los Angeles-based Cedars-Sinai as operating facilities where the practice is followed.

IU Health, Ascension and Cedars-Sinai denied they have such practices.

“Cedars-Sinai policy strictly prohibits the denial of medically necessary care because of prior nonpayment,” a system spokesperson told Becker’s in a statement. “Cedars-Sinai is committed to providing quality healthcare to everyone in our community who needs it, regardless of their financial circumstances.”

“We do not restrict medically necessary non-emergency care for patients with unpaid bills,” an Ascension spokesperson said.

Becker’s also reached out to Trinity Health and Mayo Clinic and will update this story if more information becomes available.