Chicago Tribune Editorial on “Medical Credit Scores”

There’s an editorial by a physician in the Chicago Tribune today advocating for more federal oversight of hospitals as regards credit reporting and billing.  As I don’t work in the after-care billing side of medicine I’m not well versed to say anything about that.

I am very aware that his argument calling for this expanded role is, to put it mildly, so nonsensical as to be laughable.

Here’s the ‘scare’ he’s concerned about:

…An even more ominous threat would be prescreening patients before medical treatment is provided. A patient’s low health credit score could affect medical decisions or alternatively serve as a pretext for denying the patient care. Armed with a patient’s health credit score, an emergency room triage nurse or medical administrator could do a quick medical screening before registering a patient and decide to refer the patient to another hospital because he is a bad financial risk. (By not registering a patient, a hospital might be able to skirt federal laws that make it illegal for hospitals to refuse patients emergency care.)

The law he’s alluding to is EMTALA, which prohibits just such a financial screening.  There’s no cutout in EMTALA for ‘can I do a credit check on you before we register you for care’?  It’s a goofy premise.

The remainder of the above paragraph:

There are built-in protections for patients, including the Health Insurance and Portability and Accountability Act, and several credit laws offer protection to consumers.

And, again, EMTALA.  So, the big fear is that hospitals will do wallet biopsies using credit scores, except there are already legal prohibitions against it, so let’s insist on more oversight for a non-existent, daydreamed-maybe-future problem.

Interesting he’s refuted his own contention, yet still goes on to advocate for more governmental oversight in an adversarial role with hospitals.  Strange premise, a self-refuting argument then an unsupported conclusion, but other than that it’s fine.

Don’t waste your time.