“It’s sad for the average lower-income person to have to struggle so hard and then they just come along and take it.”
Over three years, hospitals and medical facilities have garnished more than $390 million from South Carolinians. For months, WBTV has been reporting on how hospitals garnish patients’ money for unpaid bills. The South Carolina Department of Revenue makes it easy for them through the Setoff and GEAR programs.
Records obtained by WBTV from SCDOR show know hospital has faced more patient protests than Beaufort Memorial, 252 since 2020. The hearing officer found 66 of those patients did not owe the debt, according to the SCDOR records.
Beaufort Memorial patients can also review financial assistance and payment plans on the hospital website.
South Carolina statutes require hospitals to send a detailed notification of the pending garnishment and the process for protesting the claim. WBTV outlined the steps.
1. File a protest with the Claimant Agency (Hospital/Medical Center)
a. The written protest must be mailed to the Claimant Agency. If you did not receive a notification, send the letter to the hospital address with “ATTN: Setoff/GEAR Coordinator.” Include the following information in your written/typed protest.