Hospitals care for everyone who comes through their doors. Often, that care is intense and expensive, but is provided regardless of a patient’s ability to pay. Hospitals are required to help low-income patients cover their medical bills through charity care. This helps ensure that everyone is able to get the care they need.
At WSHA, we continue to work with our member hospitals and health systems to make it easier to apply for and get charity care. We created a standardized charity care application form that is available in multiple languages. We are pleased to say that these forms have been adopted by more than 90 percent of our member hospitals. Our goal is to make it easy for patients to know when help is available, and make it easy for hospitals to follow the law and provide compassion to patients in financial distress.
Hospital finances remain one of the trickiest elements of health care. Hospitals absorb the costs of charity care, which amount to more than $180 million annually. Medicare and Medicaid don’t cover the full cost of what it takes to treat a patient, which leads to further financial loss. Running a hospital is expensive. Privately insured patients make up the difference so hospitals can hire nurses, buy pharmaceuticals and keep equipment running.
WSHA members are committed to ensuring that all patients who need assistance are able to get it, but we also understand that offering these programs drives up the cost of care for others. It’s a balancing act to make sure that we’re taking care of all of our residents.
We are here to help you as you ensure your charity care program is working.
WSHA President & CEO