Of course, everyone's fear, and what's held them back in the past, is the threat of being sent into collections. We are talking about creating legitimate disputes, not complaints. We demand information that any reasonable person would agree we need.
Ultimately, nearly every bill goes to collections. The patient executes a simple power of attorney and BrokenHealthcare calls the collections agency on their behalf. We explain the dispute and remind them that they are required (by the Fair Credit and Reporting Act) to do their due diligence before making a report. We tell them that they must get the correspondence file from the hospital and that if they make a negative report without seeing to it that the questions are answered, the patient (with our assistance) will sue them. Thus far, none have dared. We also tell the patients that if the biller actually does accede to our demands, they might actually have to pay their bill.
Our goal is not to get people out of their bills. That is merely a means to an end. The worst-case scenario is that someone ultimately has to pay their bill. Our goal is to get this matter into the courts and into the press.
Thus far, no one has had a credit report made. If and when it happens, it will be reported as "disputed," and then we will initiate legal action. It's a risk everyone takes. But there is also emerging case law that says when it comes to medical bills, you can clear a negative report by simply paying it. That's not true of other bills, which can stay on your credit for seven years.
The goal of this new form of denial is to put fiscal pressure on hospitals' results. If and when enough patients deny payment, it will hopefully allow us to test current billing practices in court. If the fiscal consequences are severe enough that a provider attempts to fight back by suing someone, we'll be ready.
We are building an army of volunteer attorneys prepared to represent people when the time comes. In fact, when communicating with providers and bill collectors, we've been asking them to sue the patient. Thus far, none have. Our demands are too logical. No one believes a judge or jury will ask someone to pay their bill without the provider offering adequate information. And no one has dared test it, lest they establish a precedent for all others to live by.
— By David Silverstein, founder of management consulting firm The Lean Methods Group and BrokenHealthcare.org. Silverstein is also a member of the CNBC-YPO Chief Executive Network.
CNBC and YPO have formed an exclusive editorial partnership consisting of regional "Chief Executive Networks" in the Americas, EMEA and Asia-Pacific. These Chief Executive Networks are made up of a sample of YPO's global network of 24,000 top executives from 120 countries who are on the front lines of the economy and run companies that collectively generate $6 trillion in annual revenue.