Hospital Indigent Funds

I spent a good portion of yesterday morning in the Emergency Room. While scrubbing out a pot that I’d boiled linguini noodles in, I jammed a dried noodle in between the nail and the thumb. It went all the way to the quick. I tried pulling it out which only broke it off, then soaking it to make it flexible (no go), and sucking it out (extremely painful, no positive result). It quickly got infected and moved closer and closer to that ten on the pain scale. So reluctantly I went to the ER, knowing that I was in for an extremely painful digital block and extraction.

Sometimes, the bill can be even more painful! For us, Paul’s twenty years of military service means that we don’t have to pay. Most of the people we know are not so fortunate. My best friend’s husband had his second heart surgery this year. Their share of the bill, after insurance, was more than $5,000. Knowing that there was no way they could pay that off, she started digging. One of the things she found out about was the Hospital Indigent Fund. What this is is a fund that most hospitals have for low-income patients. “Low income” in this case generally means twice the federal poverty level – or about $40,000 a year for a family of five. The financial assistance from this fund reduced her bill by almost 50%.

She further reduced it by asking for an itemized bill. On it, she noticed that they had been charged for medication that the doctor had opted not to give him. There were a couple of other charges that she politely asked about and they ended up removing. She called and explained their circumstances to the surgeon’s office as well, and he was willing to write off their portion of the bill. In all, she reduced her bill to $700. Then she showed the hospital her budget and agreed to pay that off at the rate of $20 per pay period, interest-free. Not a bad day’s work.

Some things to remember:

  • Always be polite. These are real people on the other side of the phone, and you really do catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.
  • Ask the hospital if they have a credit counselor. They are generally the first step toward reduction.
  • Take care of the bill promptly. Once it goes to collections, it’s generally much more difficult to negotiate.
  • Stick to your agreement. If you make arrangements to pay $20 every two weeks, make sure it gets mailed.
  • Be honest about your situation. If you have an $80,000 RV, you probably CAN pay that doctor bill. But if you can show that $50 a month is a true hardship, do so.

Related Blog: Save Money on Health Costs