Psychiatric Hospital Billing Ripoff

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Psychiatric Hospital Billing Ripoff

When we or our loved ones encounter medical problems, the emotions we experience can run the gamut. We often feel overwhelmed, under prepared, and completely blindsided by the changes we observe directly, or indirectly. Unfortunately, the same can be said about mental illness and the effect it has on loved ones and relatives. It has been said before that we often feel like a number when we walk through the doors of a hospital, and now, there are several investigations attempting to confirm just that. Medical malpractice occurs in myriad forms, and psychiatric hospitals are no exception.

Insurance Abuse

Insurance abuse is nothing new, and fraud takes many forms. One such form is Intake Abuse at psychiatric hospitals around the United States. There are laws in place that require hospitals, and by extension psychiatric institutions, to take care of a patient regardless of their ability to pay, provided that the institution or hospital receives any kind of federal funding or subsidy. This means that in a critical care situation, most individuals will be provided life saving care. However, this comes with a cost to the institution providing care, and in turn forces the institution to find a way to cover its operational costs. Often times those costs are passed on to insurance carriers based on length of stay of any given patient.

An Empty Bed Represents Profits Lost

What logically follows is that institutions are essentially being paid to keep beds full. An empty bed represents profits lost. Not surprisingly, this situation produces an incentive for over diagnosing a patient, misrepresenting a patient’s symptoms (particularly in psychiatric cases), and even screening non insurance patients, (and subsequently denying admission as a result). In some extreme cases, the institution may not allow the patient to go home at all, and instead enact whats known in the industry as an “involuntary commitment”. Every state has a law like this, and its purpose is twofold. First, this law empowers the institution to hold a patient without cause so long as they present an imminent risk to themselves. Second, it is intended to serve those who cannot make medical decisions on their own due to any number of factors. It is important to note that without an imminent threat, these kinds of actions constitute abuse and perhaps false imprisonment.

Psychiatric Institutions Find Clever Ways to Make Ends Meet

Still, psychiatric institutions like this have to find a way to make ends meet. There are a number of ways a hospital might accomplish this. First, as institutions are forced to reduce their already thin nursing staff, less time is actually spent managing whatever issue may have hospitalized the patient. Subsequently, treatments may be less effective, require longer stays, and generally not produce as positive an outcome as the patient desires. Unfortunately, longer stays is exactly what the institution wants. When an insurance company authorizes any number of days for a hospital stays the hospital is then incentivized to “max out the patient”, even if remaining hospitalized is unnecessary.

Preventing Psychiatric Intake Abuse

You can prevent the incidence of Intake abuse in the following ways: Know your rights. Be proactive. Be an advocate. Become informed. Each state has different laws regarding the intake process at hospitals and psychiatric institutions. You can determine what your rights are by contacting the Department of Healthcare Services, (or the equivalent) in your state. Once you have contacted them, begin to compile as much information as you can about the incident in question.

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