9 votes

Nursing homes are suing friends and family to collect on patients' bills

8 comments

  1. [7]
    JXM
    Link
    As someone who just went through a close relative dying and watching my wife deal with being the executor of his estate, there’s a legal process to collect debt from a dead person. You know what...

    As someone who just went through a close relative dying and watching my wife deal with being the executor of his estate, there’s a legal process to collect debt from a dead person. You know what isn’t legal at all? Suing other people to collect that debt.

    Fuck these nursing homes. I hope someone sues them back and bankrupts their asses.

    8 votes
    1. [6]
      cfabbro
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      Call me crazy, but I'm of the opinion that for-profit nursing homes shouldn't be allowed to exist at all. The nursing home industry has proven, the world over and time and time again (but...

      Call me crazy, but I'm of the opinion that for-profit nursing homes shouldn't be allowed to exist at all. The nursing home industry has proven, the world over and time and time again (but especially recently with COVID) just how insanely neglectful and utterly inhumane they inevitably become when profit is valued over the well-being of the people in their care. So IMO profit needs to be removed as a factor entirely.

      9 votes
      1. [5]
        LukeZaz
        Link Parent
        I feel like this can be extended further: Why should "for profit" be considered a valid motive for anything, let alone the healthcare industry? It's a selfish thing and it's responsible for so...

        I feel like this can be extended further: Why should "for profit" be considered a valid motive for anything, let alone the healthcare industry? It's a selfish thing and it's responsible for so many corrupt institutions that I'd think it'd be an obvious target for improvement, and yet I still keep encountering folks who defend profit as an incentive like it's their very identity. I don't get this.

        7 votes
        1. [4]
          Loire
          (edited )
          Link Parent
          I mean, ya. That would be because it generally works and, when controlled and regulated properly, contributes to encouraging advancement, development and improved outcomes, but only when not...

          defend profit as an incentive like it's their very identity.

          I mean, ya. That would be because it generally works and, when controlled and regulated properly, contributes to encouraging advancement, development and improved outcomes, but only when not applied to obviously unsuitable industries like healthcare and prisons. At their very basest level profit motive encourages humans to participate in industry and the economy where they may not want to otherwise. Nobody grows up wanting to repair sewage systems or collect garbage but the prospect of making more money than an easier ensures there are those to fill those roles. Profit is simply a motivation system whether or not you are applying it to the individual or the corporate level, which is why strong governmental control is necessary to even put it's negatives.

          In a better time, and a better society that hadn't reached peak capitalism prospect of "more" was encouraging.

          Do you not see the irony of complaining about those who dogmatically support capitalism by espousing a rigidly anti-profit viewpoint?

          6 votes
          1. [3]
            LukeZaz
            Link Parent
            I suppose I should start by defining what I mean when I say "profit," so to be clear, that is this: Profit is when you pay someone to create value by doing work, but then pay them less than the...
            • Exemplary

            I suppose I should start by defining what I mean when I say "profit," so to be clear, that is this: Profit is when you pay someone to create value by doing work, but then pay them less than the value they created; specifically, profit is the remaining quantity that you did not pay them. No individual performing a job for wages is gaining profit, as wages do not qualify as such.

            With this definition in mind, I am very confident that profit as a motive is a terrible influence on society as a whole and can be blamed for a great variety of problems we face. It encourages seeking the most financially beneficial outcome possible, with no incentive to care for if the organization or person actually needs that money or if they're trampling others to get it.

            By encouraging the hoarding of money, we gain only wealth inequality; by demanding maximal profits, we gain overpriced medication; by refusing to spend money to improve, we gain reliance on fossil fuels; by treating the acquisition of money as a central tenet of society, we get a world where food, water and shelter are considered commodities instead of basic rights.

            And no, I don't see any hypocrisy, because my views aren't dogma, nor do I consider them my identity. I once believed in the profit motive as good for society, and that opinion took many years and a lot of thinking to change. I didn't take this stance lightly, and I understand that I might still be wrong, especially considering the complexity of the topic. The sad reality is that the world kept giving me countless reasons to doubt the validity of money as a driving force for civilization, and I just don't see value in it anymore.

            4 votes
            1. skybrian
              Link Parent
              One problem with that definition is that value is inherently subjective. Marketers tend to prefer "value-based pricing" where they change more because a product is supposedly worth more to the...

              One problem with that definition is that value is inherently subjective. Marketers tend to prefer "value-based pricing" where they change more because a product is supposedly worth more to the customer. They will make claims about how much money you saved compared to a more expensive alternative. Does figuring out a more flattering comparison really add value, if it convinced the customer to pay more?

              Another way to create "value" is to find a customer who values the work more because they are richer and can afford to pay more. I don't think we really value food more than people in poor countries, but we pay for convenience because we can.

              A second problem is deciding who created the value when many people are involved. A simple example might be allocating tips between the front and the back of the house at a restaurant. Did a customer visit because they liked the service or enjoyed the food? Some of both, maybe, but how would you divide that up?

              Also, generally, salespeople will claim credit for whatever sales they make, even though they didn't make the product, because they they worked to make the sale happen. But it can be difficult to say what the customer would have done otherwise. Maybe they would have bought it anyway, so having salespeople doesn't add value.

              And a final issue is agency. Your work might be wasted for reasons that aren't your fault. You will probably expect to be paid anyway, even though no value was created. This is can be thought of as a sort of insurance scheme, where sometimes you are paid less than the high amount of value created when things are going well, to make up for the times when little value is created due to things going badly. In extreme cases the entire company might be unprofitable for years, in hopes of getting a big payoff someday. But the workers aren't responsible for business strategy.

              5 votes
            2. EgoEimi
              Link Parent
              Not necessarily. Profit can be the return on capital — infrastructure you provide to enable someone else to create value. The free market argument is that in an ideal world of perfectly rational...

              Profit is when you pay someone to create value by doing work, but then pay them less than the value they created; specifically, profit is the remaining quantity that you did not pay them.

              Not necessarily. Profit can be the return on capital — infrastructure you provide to enable someone else to create value.

              It encourages seeking the most financially beneficial outcome possible, with no incentive to care for if the organization or person actually needs that money or if they're trampling others to get it.

              The free market argument is that in an ideal world of perfectly rational actors, people will exchange money for goods and services that benefit their welfare. In such a world, the most financially beneficially outcome for the seller = the most socially beneficially outcome for the buyer.

              Obviously, we live an unideal world of semi-rational, semi-irrational actors subject to advertisement, coercion, manipulation, etc. But the argument still half holds.

              It's why we have many businesses that sell gentle wake-up light alarms, and absolutely zero businesses that will send someone to punch you in the face at 7 AM as a wake-up service.

              But it's also why we have oil companies that will sell us petroleum products (yay: cars, trains, planes, plastics, and countless useful materials) while being environmentally destructive (not yay). People will bemoan environmental destruction, but then... hop in their car to go pick up their Starbucks order and then book a flight to see family for Thanksgiving. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯


              I've also seen the non-profit side of things where lack of clear metrics—like profit—created inefficiency and ineffectiveness.

              I don't have an absolutist take on it. I doubt there can ever be One True System. Instead, I now think that capitalism and socialism must exist in forever tension with one another. One force driving innovation and industry; the other tending to social outcomes. To provide myriad incentive structures for myriad human motivations to unlock everyone's potential. Some people are motivated by money to become doctors or to create startups. Some people are motivated by fame or personal achievement. Some people are motivated by their family. Some people are motivated by altruism to do good. Most people are motivated by some blend of these motives.

              4 votes
  2. AugustusFerdinand
    Link

    Lucille Brooks was stunned when she picked up the phone before Christmas two years ago and learned a nursing home was suing her.

    "I thought this was crazy," recalled Brooks, 74, a retiree who lives with her husband in a modest home in the Rochester suburbs. Brooks' brother had been a resident of the nursing home. But she had no control over his money or authority to make decisions for him. She wondered how she could be on the hook for his nearly $8,000 bill.

    Brooks would learn she wasn't alone. Pursuing unpaid bills, nursing homes across this industrial city have been routinely suing not only residents but their friends and family, a KHN review of court records reveals. The practice has ensnared scores of children, grandchildren, neighbors, and others, many with nearly no financial ties to residents or legal responsibility for their debts.

    5 votes