Updated at 9:10 a.m. ET on August 29, 2019.
On March 8, 2011, Joclyn Krevat, an occupational therapist in New York, was sitting at her computer when she received a most unusual LinkedIn request. The wording was the familiar: “I’d like to add you to my professional network.” The sender was familiar, too, but not for the reason Krevat expected. It was from a debt collector.
Karen Pollack, the head of a debt-collections practice called KP Recovery Solutions, had been trying to collect on some medical bills Krevat had recently incurred for a heart transplant. Krevat’s debts, which were reviewed by The Atlantic, made up plot points in the worst kind of American health-care horror story. In December 2009, Krevat, who was 32 at the time, thought she was coming down with the flu. Instead, she was admitted to the hospital and diagnosed with giant cell myocarditis, a severe inflammatory heart disease that can lead to heart failure. After seven weeks on life support, a heart became available, and she had a transplant. For a year afterward, she wasn’t able to return to work.
Krevat’s husband was a teacher, and Krevat had good insurance through him. But some of the doctors who treated her turned out to be out-of-network—a situation she couldn’t control, because she did not know when a new heart would become available. She estimates that if she had paid every bill that was sent to her, the total would have been about $50,000.