This year, ProPublica and MLK50 have been investigating institutions in Memphis, Tennessee, that profit at the expense of people who can’t afford to pay. When we first started reporting on Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare, a nonprofit health care system, it was profiting while relentlessly suing the poor. It had filed more than 8,300 lawsuits for unpaid medical bills in just five years, according to our analysis. After we published our findings, Methodist announced it would stop suing its poorest patients and erased the balance owed by more than 6,500 defendants.
But Methodist isn’t alone in using aggressive debt collection tactics. We also reported on Coffeyville, Kansas, where 11 people were arrested in the past year after they missed hearings related to bills that they owed to the county’s nonprofit hospital, Coffeyville Regional Medical Center, and a city ambulance.
Since we published our first pieces on Memphis’ debt machine, we’ve been flooded with responses from people around the country that indicate this is a widespread issue.
Hearing your experiences can help us do more reporting to hold these institutions accountable. It can also inspire local reporters in your communities to cover the topic. Please fill out this questionnaire if any of the following apply to you:
- You were sued by a hospital or physician’s group, or you know or represent someone who has been.
- You have medical debt that’s been difficult to pay off.
- You were arrested after you were unable to attend court for unpaid medical bills.
- You work for a hospital or collection agency and have something to share about financial practices there.
- You’ve been sued for debt by a non-health care institution you think we should know about.
Anything you submit using the following questionnaire gets delivered securely to us. Once we receive and read through your tip, we’ll work on connecting you with a local reporter so they can follow up. You can also text or call us through Signal or WhatsApp at 347-244-2134, which are more secure.