In 2021, Goode received a letter from Beaufort Memorial notifying her that they were going to collect on an unpaid medical bill by garnishing her tax refund. She decided the garnishment attempt was worth fighting.
More than 150 South Carolinians have reached out to the WBTV Investigates Team about their tax refunds or paychecks being garnished to offset unpaid medical debt at hospitals. More than one third of them said they received no advanced warning of the upcoming garnishment, as required by state law.
The WBTV Investigates team is continuing to reveal how medical debt is impacting people across the Charlotte area. Durham’s situation raises new questions about hospitals’ responsibility to provide charity care for people who are stuck with years old unpaid bills.
In 2005, Terry Belk and his wife Sandra signed a Deed of Trust with Atrium. Essentially, Atrium has a claim on part of the equity of his home, $23,311 in this case. It’s separate from the lawsuit and altogether puts his debt at about $30,000.
Shane Bare was quickly granted a victory in his appeal for coverage of a live-saving drug to treat his CIDP. It’s a far cry from his last battle against his plan sponor and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services when he had to appeal denials five times before finally winning approval from a judge.
The garnishment process allows hospitals to collect on unpaid medical bills, but a WBTV Investigation raises questions about whether debtors are told about their legal rights to protest the collection.