Monday, August 18, 2014

Hospital Charity Care after the Affordable Care Act

In Hospitals Reassess Charity as Obamacare Options Become Available, the Washington Post reports that “hospitals are rethinking their charity programs, with some scaling back help for those who could have signed up for coverage but didn’t.”  The story cites concern “that offering free or discounted care to low-income, uninsured patients might dissuade them from getting government-subsidized coverage,” and notes the obvious financial interest that hospitals have in treating “more patients covered by insurance as the federal government makes big cuts in funding for uncompensated care.”

The story reveals the calculus facing hospital decision-makers:

Hospital executives say they are weighing many questions in evaluating whether to change their policies. Did people choose not to enroll, or were they unable to get through the new health insurance marketplaces during the open enrollment in the fall and spring? Did they know subsidized coverage is available? Could they afford insurance?

“That’s something hospitals have struggled with for decades: Is the patient unwilling to pay or unable to pay?” says Katherine Arbuckle, senior vice president and chief financial officer at Ascension Health based in St. Louis.

The story further reports that some hospitals, including those managed by two major chains, plan no major changes to their charity care policies under Obamacare. 

JRB

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/nonprofit/2014/08/hospital-charity-care-after-the-affordable-care-act-1.html

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