Border hospitals send collection agents to Mexico

July 21, 2004 at 4:28PM MST
Elizabeth Vall Reports

Border hospitals send collection agents to Mexico

Hospitals losing millions from non-paying Mexican Nationals are now sending collections agents across the border.

At University Medical Center, both legal and illegal immigrants racked up $16 million in unpaid bills last year. A huge debt, collection agents are now tracking patients down in Mexico to pay.

If patients can't pay, it's written off as charity. If they can afford a payment plan, but refuse, agents inform them the hospital will turn their name over to Immigration and Naturalization and Border Patrol agents.

This can hurt their ability to cross back into the U.S. freely.

Typically, collection agents only recover 8% of what hospitals are owed.

Marj Sisson, UMC Transition Management, says it's still worth it. She says, "Even if we net back half a million dollars, half a million can do a lot."

Hospitals in Bisbee and Yuma are also relying on collection agents to bring back millions of dollars in payments from Mexico.

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