Single Attacks Price Gouging Hospitals
Scott Ferguson, a friend to many in the Denver area singles scene, has founded the Colorado Hospital Victims Project to fight against hospitals that price gouge uninsured patients.
Scott spent six days at the St. Anthony Central Hospital (part of Sentura Health, a national Catholic health organization) with a case of pneumonia; his total charges ran to $75,000. Shocked and uninsured, Scott found help from K.B. Forbes at consejohelp.org, the web site of Consejo de Latinos Unidos (Council of United Latinos) an advocacy group for uninsured patients.
Forbes suggested that Scott ask St. Anthony for the billing codes related to his stay. The codes were given to Scott after he threatened legal action (hospitals are now legally required to provide the billing codes).
K.B. Forbes helped Scott decipher the codes. Scott discovered that an insurance company would have been charged only $8,200 for the same services, in comparison Scott suffered an 800% price gouge.
Scott’s case was worse than average, overcharges more frequently run three to four times as high as payments to insurance companies. An extreme case involved a man who went to a Denver area hospital with a severe headache. He was at the hospital for two hours, but not admitted; however he was charged $25,000.
Scott studied religion and philosophy on his own for thirty years, this is why the blatant hypocrisy motivated him to take action.
The mission statement for the Colorado Hospital Victims Project is “Holding hospitals to their stated moral, professional and human ethics in the care and treatment of patients”.
Hospitals adorned with statues of Jesus and St. Anthony, patron saint of the poor, are driving many uninsured poor and working class people into bankruptcy. Nearly 50% of all bankruptcies are due at least in part to medical bills. Scott Ferguson believes that tax-exempt non-profits should operate for the public good, and religious organizations should practice what they preach.
Scott is taking his case to whoever will listen, and he is being heard; Bill Spencer and Marsha Mason of the Denver Post and Bill Johnson of the Rocky Mountain News have interviewed him. Scott has also been interviewed by national media outlets.
He has talked to his state representative Cheri Jahn and to former state senator and current state senatorial candidate Ed Pearlmutter. He is trying to set up meetings with Congressman Bob Beauprez, a leading candidate for governor, Archbishop Charles Chaput, State Senate President Joan Fitzgerald and the Attorney General’s office.
Scott is currently gathering signatures of church pastors and leaders on a petition condemning price gouging by non profit church owned hospitals. He is looking for volunteers to help in this effort. He is also asking concerned citizens to send emails in support of this cause. Scott can be contacted at email@example.com or 303 403-0159. Perhaps you can talk to your minister about this issue.
One man taking on the medical establishment may sound like Don Quixote charging at windmills, however Scot is not alone in his quest and the windmills have taken some beatings.
Several national advocacy groups have taken up the cause. The aforementioned Consejo de Latinos Unidos persuaded the Tenet Healthcare Corporation, the nation’s second-largest hospital chain, to give discounts to uninsured patients.
The Daughters of Charity Healthcare System, a five hospital Catholic chain decided to charge uninsured patients the same rates as managed care patients due to their religious beliefs.
A Dan Rather report during the March 5th edition of 60 Minutes brought national attention to the issue.
Scott and his allies can bring public ridicule to hypocritical hospital billing practices, more significantly they can threaten the hospitals tax-exempt status. Do not be surprised to hear of more hospitals bowing to public pressure.