Nonprofits hospitals in Virginia garnish more wages than for-profit counterparts, study says

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Nonprofit Virginia hospitals are more likely to garnish patients’ wages if they do not pay their medical bills than their for-profit counterparts, according to a study published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Though 36 percent of Virginia hospitals garnished wages in 2017, five hospitals, including four nonprofit and one for-profit, accounted for 51 percent of all garnishment cases in the state.

Of those having their wages garnished, their most common employers were Walmart, Wells Fargo, Amazon and Lowes, according to the study.

The Wall Street Journal and NPR zeroed in on Mary Washington Hospital in Fredericksburg, a nonprofit. NPR identified it as the hospital that sued the most patients in Virginia in 2017.

Last year, the Virginia Mercury examined five years of state court records and found more than 400,000 lawsuits filed by Virginia medical providers, which netted over $587 million in legal judgments against their patients.

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Katie O'Connor
Katie, a Manassas native, has covered health care, commercial real estate, law, agriculture and tourism for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Richmond BizSense and the Northern Virginia Daily. Last year, she was named an Association of Health Care Journalists Regional Health Journalism Fellow, a program to aid journalists in making national health stories local and using data in their reporting. She is a graduate of the College of William and Mary, where she was executive editor of The Flat Hat, the college paper, and editor-in-chief of The Gallery, the college’s literary magazine.
Ned Oliver
Ned, a Lexington native, has a decade’s worth of experience in journalism, beginning at The News-Gazette in Lexington, and including stints at the Berkshire Eagle, in Berkshire County, Mass., and the Times-Dispatch and Style Weekly in Richmond. He also has the awards to show for it, including taking a pair of first-place honors at the Virginia Press Association awards earlier this year for investigative reporting and feature writing. He is a graduate of Bard College at Simon’s Rock, in Great Barrington, Mass.