Buy and Bust: Collapse of Private Equity-Backed Rural Hospitals Mired Employees in Medical Bills

by | Aug 16, 2022 | Health

The first unexpected bill arrived in December, just weeks before Tara Lovell’s husband of 40 years died from bladder cancer.

Lovell worked as an ultrasound technologist at the local Audrain Community Hospital, in Mexico, Missouri, and was paying more than $400 a month for health insurance through her job. The town’s struggling hospital, the sole health care provider and major employer, had changed ownership in recent years, selling in March 2021 to Noble Health, a private equity-backed startup whose managers had never run a hospital.

One year later, facing staggering debt and a pile of lawsuits, Noble closed the hospital and another one it owned in neighboring Callaway County. It is now the focus of at least two federal investigations.

As the hospitals collapsed, Lovell and the facilities’ doctors, nurses, and patients saw evidence that the new owners were skimping on services — failing to pay for and stock surgical supplies and drugs. For example, in Callaway, state inspectors deemed conditions in the hospital to be endangering patients. What was less apparent, former workers said, was that Noble had also stopped paying for employee health, dental, vision, and life insurance benefits. They were unknowingly uninsured.

Lovell and others said they realized — after comparing notes about canceled dental appointments, out-of-pocket costs for glasses, and surprise bills — that Noble had taken money from th …

Article Attribution | Read More at Article Source

Share This