MedFICO: Another Way To Discriminate Against the Poor and Uninsured

Corporate America has found another way to target the poor. The newly forming medFICO, which has the credit industry giant Fair Isaac Corporation (aka FICO) behind it, will be coming as soon as summer to a hospital near you.

The theory behind this crap goes something like this. Hospitals claim they need to determine a patient's ability to pay his or her bill, in order to "plan ahead" for such things as investing in new projects or determining expenses against revenue. I can see the logic behind that of course, but can we trust the intentions of the hospital's who elect to implement this plan? And is the answer to this situation to establish (yet another) credit score for the people?

According to statistics, nearly 3/4 of patients who fall into the inability-to-pay category due so because they cannot afford the bill, largely because they are (duh) uninsured or because their deductibles are so high. I would also add to that equation, in additional to ridiculously high deductibles, the out-of-pocket expenses insurance plans demand from the consumer as well before that 100% coverage begins. Consumer advocates are rightly concerned. Will this lead to the poor and uninsured receiving lower quality medical care? Will hospitals look at the patient's score prior to receiving medical care?

According to Stephen Farber, chairman of Healthcare Analytics, hospitals will only check the score after the patient has been discharged.

This begs the question: What protection is in place for patients to ensure this? Given the growing discrimination against the poor and the uninsured and the gross amount of blaming-the-individual that goes on from both political parties as well as in our society, can we really feel safe in knowing that, even though a patient may lack the funds to pay for a treatment, they will receive the same quality of care as their insured and wealthier counterparts?

Time will tell.

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