Healthcare Charity Care Programs Becoming a Hot Topic with Hospital CFO’s

by Phil C. Solomon on February 13, 2012

in Healthcare Compliance,Healthcare Revenue Cycle,Hospital Charity Care,Hospital Legislation,Hospital Software,Hospitals and health systems

Charity care has become one of the hottest topics at the State level across the nation. States such as Illinois, California, Minnesota and New York are stepping in order to protect lower income consumers and ensure they are fairly treated when unexpected hospital bills mount up. New York’s charity care system, partly financed by an 8.95 percent surcharge on hospital bills, is one of the most complicated in the nation, but many states have wrestled with aggressive debt collection by hospitals in recent years. Like New York, several passed laws curbing hospitals’ pursuit of unpaid bills, including Illinois, California and Minnesota.

However, a new study of New York hospitals’ practices and state records as reported by the New York Times, NY Region finds that most medical centers are violating the rules without consequences, even as the state government ignores glaring problems in the hospitals’ own reports. The state of New York is not alone. Many other States have similar problems that have not come to light yet. One of the biggest challenges for hospitals is identifying charity qualified patients and getting the patients to cooperate, and fill out charity applications.

Solutions for this dilemma exist, such as iSolutions IQ’s charity scoring technology which segment’s probable charity qualified patients in the self-pay financial class and provides the hospitals additional tools to ensure charity policies are followed and adhered to. Scoring tools such as iSolutions IQ offer a soft inquiry credit check which estimates the possible qualification of patients for charity care. Some hospitals have preemptively begun categorizing patients who do not respond to requests to fill out charity applications, to be written off as charity qualified accounts and therefore, not pursued by collection agencies.

Change is becoming an urgent issue for the charity care overhaul fin New York as well and many other States. Keep a close eye on the trends affecting charity care legislation. My advice is to stay one step ahead of the curve and make changes to your charity care identification and application process so only qualified accounts are submitted to bad debt for collections.

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