Former patients at UCHealth have filed a class-action lawsuit against Credit Services Company, Inc. (CSC), which collects medical debt from patients of healthcare providers like UCHealth.
The plaintiffs allege that CSC operates as if it has bought medical debt from UCHealth and other providers, and uses confidential medical and financial information in communications with former patients.
This arrangement forces patients to communicate with debt collectors, rather than health care professionals, whose main interest is in the repayment of debt rather than the health and well being of the patient.
“At a moment when my family and I were in crisis, I sought out medical care from UCHealth,” said Plaintiff Catherine Woods-Sullivan. “When I got a bill for thousands of dollars, I knew I’d have problems paying. But when I tried to communicate with UCHealth about it, they told me there was nothing they could do. I had to talk to a private, for-profit debt collector called CSC. About a year after my medical trauma, CSC sued me.”
The lawsuit also claims that CSC does not comply with rules that apply to Colorado debt buyers.
“Problems with unfair medical debt collection are nationwide in scope,” said Senior attorney at the National Consumer Law Center Charles Delbaum. “Abusive and intrusive collection of medical bills is particularly pernicious because they often end up in collections when there are insurance or billing disputes.”
Medical debt is the leading cause of personal bankruptcy in the United States, while the for-profit medical debt collection industry brings in billions of dollars each year.
Medical debt also disproportionately impacts people of color. An Urban Institute study found that 21% of consumers living in predominately non-white zip codes had a medical debt in collections compared to just 16% of consumers living in predominately white zip codes.
In a statement provided to Denver7, CSC says they are surprised to be the target of the suit, as they have a long record of complying with state and federal debt collection laws.
“CSC believes this lawsuit is frivolous; we have been a compassionate, empathetic, and ethical debt collector for more than 70 years,” reads the company statement. “We expect the Court to dismiss this action and allow us to continue to serve our communities.”