Advocate Health Care, Oak Brook, Ill., said it is the subject of a class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of uninsured patients. The lawsuit, filed in Cook County (Ill.) Circuit Court, contends that Advocate's debt collection practices violate the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act and alleges that the system charges uninsured patients more than the insured. Advocate spokesman Ed Domansky said, "We've not seen the lawsuit and have not had an opportunity to review the specific allegations, but Advocate believes it has one of the -- if not the -- most considerate charity-care policies in the country." Domansky said the 10-hospital system has budgeted $220 million for uncompensated care in 2003, $51 million of which is for charity care. The company earned an operating profit of $46.8 million on revenue of $2.6 billion in 2002. Advocate offers discounts of 50% to 100% to uninsured patients with family income of up to four times federal poverty level, Domansky said. Almost 99% of patients completing charity care applications are granted discounts, he said. Hospitals' charity-care and billing practices have become an increasing hot topic as the rate of uninsured has risen, and numerous facilities have been accused of treating uninsured patients unfairly in recent months. -- by Mark Taylor
Ill. system sued over billing of uninsured patients
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