Sept. 13 (UPI) -- The University of Virginia Health System will abandon its aggressive billing and collection tactics that forced some patients into bankruptcy, according to reports.
The Charlottesville, Va.-based health system announced Friday it will restructure its billing process to reduce costs for patients earning low-incomes or without health insurance.
This comes after UVA said Thursday it will suspend 12 lawsuits seeking payment from patients. Instead, they plan to institute affordable payment plans for financially-burdened patients.
"In terms of our collection practices, we recognize that lawsuits, property liens, and garnishing wages can be not only disruptive but devastating," UVA said in a statement. "We would much prefer to work out a reasonable repayment plan, and that is where we will devote our attention and energy going forward."
UVA says it will file lawsuits against patients who owe more than $1,000 only if their annual household income exceeds $103,000.
The hospital system has sued patients for as much as $1 million, along with garnishing wages more than 800 times, according to Kaiser Health News. UVA also took about $22 million of tax refunds from patients with outstanding balances and filed "thousands of property liens" throughout the years.
Patients with retirement accounts holding as little as $4,000 but whose incomes hovered just above the poverty level were disqualified for patient financial assistance.
Over the last six years, UVA has filed lawsuits against more than 36,000 patients for more than $106 million, Kaiser Health News reported.
"We will also monitor the changes that we are putting into place and make adjustments as needed," UVA said. "We hope that we can use this experience not simply to improve our own practices and policies but to help lead others to do the same."