Hospitals weigh cutting back on charity care

Many hospitals have cut charitable care in order to push patients into signing up for coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

The New York Times and Kaiser Health News have reported on a growing trend of hospitals reviewing their financial assistance policies for low-to-middle income patients without insurance in order to remain financially viable. A decision to reduce charitable care can significantly increase the workload of accounts receivable services at facilities that provide care for the uninsured.

The cost of charity care is partially covered by federal reimbursements, but the remaining debt can greatly affect a hospital's financial standing. The New York Times notes that the number of facilities that have been forced to reduce charitable care has so far been limited. Despite this fact, many experts are concerned that this trend will grow in popularity.

The Affordable Care Act recently reduced federal aid for hospitals that provide a high percentage of charitable care. This change, coupled with shrinking reimbursements, places additional strain on hospitals to ensure compensation for their treatments. While these changes could cause more uninsured to consider coverage through the Affordable Care Act, many experts remain uncertain of the consequences.

"Certainly we want to encourage people who have new access to affordable coverage to take advantage of it," Sidney D. Watson, a professor at St. Louis University's Center for Health Law Studies, told the New York Times. "But I think we're all going to have to do a lot to get that message out, and there will always be people who won't have the option."

Accounts receivable services that are operating within facilities that provide a high number of patients with charitable care should be prepared for an increase in claims processing. Professional Medical Services are here to streamline the process to close outstanding medical bills. At Professional Medical Services,  we help you clear up outstanding accounts with the utmost efficiency by using a combination of automated tools and knowledgeable professionals, freeing up in-house staff to focus on high-priority accounts.