Uninsured Resurrection Hospital Patients Settle Class Action Case
A group of uninsured patients from Resurrection Health Care Hospitals settled a class action lawsuit which alleged that uninsured patients were charged excessively more than insured patients. The settlement was approved by a Circuit Court Judge on Monday, January 12, 2009. The settlement provides substantial benefits to uninsured patients of Resurrection Hospitals, including an opportunity to apply for recalculation of past hospital bills.
George S. Bellas, of Counsel to Clifford Law Offices, represented the patients along with two other firms.
The lawsuit contended that Resurrection Hospitals charged uninsured patients unreasonable rates for the medical services they provided and, as a result, breached contracts with its patients, violating the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act. Resurrection Health System denied all of the allegations of wrongdoing, fault, liability and damages of any kind but agreed to modify their billing structure and reduce the charges to all uninsured patients in order to avoid the cost of protracted litigation. Moreover, charitable financial assistance will be available to those least able to pay the hospital charges.
“Those least able to pay their hospital bills should not be charged more than the insured patients whose health insurance coverage pays the bills, particularly by not-for-profit hospitals who have been given tax incentives to help these very people,” Bellas said.
George Bellas, of counsel to Clifford Law Offices, one of the lead attorneys on the case, said about 220,000 potential claimants received notices of the settlement in the mail.
“Resurrection should be applauded for establishing a pricing and financial assistance structure that will offer deep discounts to those least able to pay for hospital services.” The Settlement Agreement includes these terms:
- uninsured patients will be given an opportunity to apply for a recalculation of their bills;
- potential refunds to uninsured patients who paid Resurrection Hospitals more money than they would have owed under the agreed Financial Assistance Program;
- a schedule of discounts on hospital bills for all uninsured patients, with the largest discounts given to uninsured patients with limited financial means;
- Catastrophic Expense Assistance will be available which limits the amounts a low income person must pay to nor more than 10 percent of the patient’s annual income; and
- continued practice of the hospital not to seize a patient’s home to recover charges.
Bellas, who was part of a nationwide effort to pursue claims against not-for-profit hospitals for overcharging uninsured patients which began five years ago, offered praise to Resurrection Health Care for this settlement. “Resurrection Health Care System has demonstrated its commitment to the community it serves by adopting a financial assistance program that recognizes its obligations to the community is serves and goes far beyond the discounts that the legislature recently required of hospital systems.”
All uninsured patients with an outstanding bill potentially are eligible to participate in the settlement. To receive a refund, patients must have paid some or all of a bill totaling $500 or more in any one-year period for services during the seven years covered by the settlement from Sept. 16, 2001, through Sept. 19, 2008.
The deadline to make a claim is February 16, 2009. Claim forms are available on line.
Resurrection Health Care System is one of the Chicago area’s largest health provider networks and includes Resurrection Medical Center, Saints Mary and Elizabeth Medical Center, Saint Joseph Hospital, Our Lady of the Resurrection Medical Center and Holy Family Medical Center, all in Chicago as well as Saint Francis Hospital in Evanston, West Suburban Medical Center in Oak Park and Westlake Hospital in Melrose Park.
For information on making a claim, go to www.bellas-wachowski.com and click on the highlight box on its home page. Claimants may call a toll free number (1-877-498-8914) set up by the claims administrator to answer any questions they may have regarding their claims.
Information regarding Resurrection Hospital’s current Financial Assistance Program can be located at the settlement website, www.reshealth.org. Information about the class action also can be found at Clifford Law Offices’ website at www.CliffordLaw.com.
For further information, please contact attorney George Bellas at (312) 899-9090 (gsb@CliffordLaw.com) or Clifford Law Offices’ Communications Partner, Pamela Menaker at (847) 251-4877.