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Vancouver Coastal Health sues German man for $35,000 hospital bill

The non-payment is a breach of B.C.'s Hospital Insurance Act.
VGH - rk
Vancouver Coastal Health Authority is suing a German man treated at Vancouver General Hospital for leaving the province without paying his medical bills.

The Vancouver Coastal Health Authority is suing a German man who ran up $47,316 in hospital bills.

Helmut Lang was admitted to Vancouver General Hospital Feb. 8-12, 2019, and signed a rate payment schedule and payment agreement, agreeing to pay all fees.

An invoice dated March 22, 2019 was sent to Lang and Global Excel Management Inc., a third-party administrator for Lang’s insurance provider, according to a notice of civil claim filed in B.C. Supreme Court on Feb. 14.

The claim said Global has paid $12,173 but the $35,143 balance remains outstanding.

Under the Hospital Insurance Act (HIA), the provincial government is not responsible for services given to someone who is not a B.C. resident.

“The defendants' non-payment of the debt constitutes a breach of the HIA and the plaintiff is entitled to recover the debt against the defendant,” the claim said.

B.C.’s Ministry of Health said patients who need care — especially emergency care — would not be denied help.

“Health authorities have procedures in place to try to minimize bad debt,” the ministry said.

Before any services are provided to non-residents, payment is collected up-front whenever possible and agreement of financial responsibility is signed, the ministry explained.

“If not possible, such as when very ill patients are admitted through emergency, the patient is billed after the visit,” the ministry said. “Health authorities will work with people with unpaid hospital bills and their insurance companies to ensure payments with court proceedings as a final resort.”

Meanwhile, interest continues to accrue on the bill.

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