Self-pays asked for $25 payment

Patients educated on eligibility

At the same time emergency department (ED) registrars began asking self-pay patients for a $25 payment at St. Luke’s University Health Network in Bethlehem, PA, the department implemented an onsite medical assistance program. Patients are able to meet with a representative in the ED at the time of services, reports Sandy Sarson, outpatient registration manager.

“Our self-pay collections have been very successful,” says Sarson. “The patient can qualify for medical assistance, and if they meet all the requirements, they are ultimately reimbursed their $25.”

Sarson and her team seize the opportunity to educate patients about any available program for which they could be eligible. “Anytime we have a conversation with a patient without health insurance, we review a list of questions to help us direct the person to the best program available for them,” says Sarson. “The goal is to tailor their needs to existing programs and guide their applications to appropriate programs.”

The questions include:

• Are you currently employed? If not, how long have you been unemployed?

• Have you had health insurance in the past six months?

• Do you have any pre-existing conditions?

• Have you ever applied to any assistance program in the past?

If a patient has a chronic condition and hasn’t had health insurance coverage in six months, for example, he or she can qualify for a program that is based on income and not their assets.

“This program is very successful for us,” says Sarson. “Our patients are very relieved to know that there is help available to them, and the hospital is able to collect payment for our services.”