policy is changed
Last year Clearwater Valley Hospital and Clinics wrote off $850,000 in bad debt and St. Mary’s Hospital and Clinics wrote off $450,000.
“The number of uninsured people continues to climb and both our hospitals and all our clinics work with patients to help enroll them in state and federally sponsored insurance programs,” said Larry Barker, Chief Operating Officer. “But, the fact remains that many people don’t make the effort to fill out the paperwork and many don’t make any attempt to pay their bills even if they have the means to do so. Because we are a business and have a responsibility to our employees and our communities we have had to change our financial policy to reduce our bad debt.”
Bad debt is defined as ‘ability to pay, but refusal to pay. The hospitals and their clinics have a Benedictine Charity Care Program to assist people who are truly needy. To qualify the patient must complete the application process.
“Our business office personnel help patients fill out Medicaid forms, Children’s Health Insurance forms, including the CHIP A and CHIP B programs and any other program for which they may quality,” said Barker. “We never turn away anyone who is truly making an effort to reimburse for the service. We also never turn away any children, but we do ask the parents to fill out the program forms for which their children may qualify.”
The new policy requires that an insurance copayment be made at time of visit. It also asks for payment at time of visit for self pay or other arrangements must be made through the business office. Unpaid overdue bills may be given to a collection agency.
The patient is responsible for insurance preauthorization. CVHC/SMHC staff will help in this process, but ultimately, the patient is responsible for any payments not made by the insurance company.
“We appreciate everyone’s understanding of our revised policy,” said Barker. “As a business, we must make sure we remain fiscally solvent so we can provide care to the people in the communities we serve. If someone is truly making an effort to reimburse us for our services we will always work with them. We just need people to also be responsible.”