Uninsured patients sue nonprofit hospital
CHICAGO – A lawsuit filed Thursday claims a nonprofit hospital in northwest Chicago failed to provide charity care to two low-income, uninsured patients, reopening a longstanding controversy in Illinois over whether hospitals are doing enough charitable work to qualify for lucrative tax exemptions.
Swedish Covenant Hospital repeatedly lost one patient’s financial assistance application and threatened to send her bill to a collection agency, according to the lawsuit. The hospital incorrectly told another patient she was ineligible for assistance and demanded cash from her, the complaint alleges.
The practices amount to “bureaucratic barriers” that prevent eligible patients from getting free care, according to the lawsuit, and the hospital has a policy of attempting to collect from “even the poorest of patients” through bill collectors and wage garnishment.
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