36% of Virginia Hospitals Garnished Wages of Patients in 2017

“… 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. ..

Hospital Characteristics Associated With Wage Garnishmenta

Source: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2737183
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

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