“… We identified 20 054 warrant-in-debt lawsuits and 9232 garnishment cases in 2017. Garnishing was conducted by 48 of 135 Virginia hospitals (36%), of which 71% were nonprofit and 75% urban, compared with 53% nonprofit and 91% urban among hospitals that did not garnish. The mean annual gross revenue of garnishing hospitals was $806 million and the mean amount garnished per hospital was $722 342 (0.1% of gross revenue). The mean amount garnished per patient was $2783.15 (range, $24.80-$25 000). The mean number of garnishments per hospital was 82, and 8399 patients had wages garnished.
Garnishments were more likely among nonprofit vs for-profit hospitals (incidence rate ratio [IRR], 11.52; 95% CI, 2.05-64.64) and hospitals with a higher markup ratio relative to the Medicare allowable amount (IRR, 2.81 per 100% increase; 95% CI, 1.69-4.69). Garnishments decreased with annual gross revenue (IRR, 0.76 per $100 million; 95% CI, 0.65-0.89). Five hospitals (4 nonprofit and 1 for-profit) accounted for 51% (4690/9232) of all garnishment cases in the state.
The most common employers of those having wages garnished were Walmart, Wells Fargo, Amazon, and Lowe’s, accounting for 8% of patients whose wages were garnished. ..
Bruhn WE, Rutkow L, Wang P, et al. Prevalence and Characteristics of Virginia Hospitals Suing Patients and Garnishing Wages for Unpaid Medical Bills. JAMA. 2019;322(7):691–692. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.9144