Carlsbad Medical Center sues patients that can’t pay bills

New Mexico

CARLSBAD, N.M. (KRQE) – Some people in Carlsbad claim their hospital is bleeding them dry. As the only emergency care in the area, residents say they have nowhere else to go and are being sued for bills they can’t pay.

In an investigation revealed by CNN, a handful of people in Carlsbad are speaking out against the lone medical center there, claiming the prices are too high to pay. When they can’t pay their medical bills, they say the hospital takes it right out of their paychecks.

“Why would the hospital do that? Like, you’re already hurting me by making me pay…you’re hurting my husband and my kids, and our livelihood,” said Victoria Pina.

Pina, a teacher’s aide in Loving, says her wages were taken, and a lien was put on her home from an emergency room visit for her dislocated shoulder.

Donna Hernandez, manager of the Trinity Hotel in Carlsbad, visited the Carlsbad Medical Center last year for the flu. After a two hour visit, she was charged $6,000.

She’s afraid she will be sued by the hospital, as she knows others who have been. Others, like Misti Price, who’s been sued five times by the hospital to pay her bills.

“They are gonna get every case, every injury, every accident, is gonna come right here, and I think they prey on that,” said Misti’s husband, A.J. Price.

Hernandez said she’s asked Carlsbad Medical Center for an itemized bill from her visit, but never got one. She said she has no way of knowing what she’s being charged for.

According to the report by CNN, in the past 10 years, Carlsbad Medical Center has sued more than 3,000 people. In a response to a request from CNN, the hospital CEO said it sues less than one percent of patients that receive care.

The hospital says before initiating a collection suit, it will make multiple attempts to contact the patients to set up manageable payment plans and will provide charity care for anyone who qualifies.

The hospital now says it has a new policy: It won’t be suing patients when their income is below a certain price point.

According to the CNN report, in the past 10 years, none of the other hospitals in the area have sued patients for debt collection.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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