SO SUE ME! 150 150 Lauren Ellerman

A recent article in the WallStreet Journal highlighted a local hospital’s efforts to collect from unpaying hospital customers.

This came as no surprise to me as I have had to wait in local general district court rooms for hours, to have my case called behind the hospital collection cases. And these weren’t families that owed hundreds of thousands – in this court, the most that can be at issue is $15,000.

So why in a market economy, is collecting from unpaid customers, a bad thing? Well, it’s not, unless you represent to the federal and state government in tax filings, that you are a “non-profit” hospital that does charity care.

So, if they collect from the SMITH family, who clearly can’t pay, who receives the “charity care?” Who decides what families get sued, and which don’t? Can they deny care to you if you have a history of non-payment? Legally, yes, they can. Health care is not a right. A nursing home can kick you out for non-payment, and I believe a hospital can do the same..

So I challenge us as citizens, to engage in a good fact-finding debate as to what “charity care” means, and what defines a non-profit hospital.

My Father is on the Board of a non-profit hospital, and was very surprised to see the amount of collections done by my local hospital. Clearly not all “non-profits” are the same~

About the author

Lauren Ellerman

In 2011, Lauren Ellerman was named "Young Lawyer of the Year" by the Roanoke Bar Association for her work in the community. To speak with Lauren about your personal injury case, contact her at

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