The Go Practice blog has been covering important topics around the increase of patient financial responsibility and how medical practices can respond in order to thrive financially and to address patients’ challenges with empathy. Here are a few examples:
- The Changing State of Patient Collections (Infographic)
- Patient Collections Boot Camp (Guide)
- 4 Ways to Add Empathy to Patient Collections
In addition to having the policies in place to clearly communicate and collect patient financial responsibility, it’s a good practice to offer your patients information about assistance resources for health services. In doing this, you show your understanding of their situation and are also helping to make sure they get the support they need to receive quality care. Here is a selection of resources you can share with patients.
Benefits.gov will help you find government benefits to which you may be entitled. A short online questionnaire will help direct you toward benefits you can apply for, including those that help with healthcare and childcare. You can also check a box at the bottom of the list to find out what benefits you could qualify for in every category.
You’ll need to have information about your income and any benefits you receive ready. The form goes through several pages, but you can click “View Benefits Results” at any time. The more information you put in, however, the more accurate and extensive the programs suggested will be for your particular situation.
The United Way
The United Way has a broad reach into each community and can provide you with information about medical assistance in your particular area. Dial the three-digit number 211 to talk to a referral specialist in your community, or go to 221.org. They can give you information on anything from drug and alcohol treatment to community clinics. The referral specialists can also help connect you to health services and senior services in your area.
Many communities have free clinics that can help with medical or dental needs. Search for a clinic near your zip code at the National Association of Free & Charitable Clinics’ website. You'll find detailed information, including directions to clinics and the services offered by each one. The services provided vary with each clinic, but generally can include medical services and treatment, including lab work and access to free or greatly discounted prescription drugs. Vision care, dental care, and mental health services are also sometimes included.
Each state has programs to help with financial assistance for medical care, health insurance, prescription assistance, medical supplies and equipment, respite care, disease screening, and more. Search by state at NeedyMeds.org for details about what’s available where you live. For example, Alabama has 21 programs offering help with everything from HIV/AIDS to breast cancer.
Pregnancy Related Services
Department of Health and Human Services programs
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services can refer you to free or low-cost services for pregnant women and their babies in your community. Call 1-800-311-BABY (1-800-311-2229). For information in Spanish, call 1-800-504-7081. The agency can refer you to your state or community’s Healthy Start program to help improve your health before, during and after pregnancy. Healthy Start also helps families care for babies through their first two years. They can refer you to newborn health screenings and a home visit program to help ensure a safe, healthy environment for you and your baby.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services also has healthcare centers that provide a wide variety of services, including complete care when you’re pregnant. They’re located in most cities and rural areas. You pay only what you can afford. You can also receive checkups, treatment for illnesses, immunizations and checkups for your children, dental care for your family, prescription drugs, and mental health and substance abuse care if needed.
Planned Parenthood has over 600 health centers located across the country. The organization helps provide pregnancy testing and general healthcare to women (and to men as well). Check online to find the closest Planned Parenthood clinic in your area. The list specifies the services offered, and you can check to see when appointments are available and make one online.
Medicaid covers other conditions as well, but it also helps finance 40 percent of all births in the U.S. Coverage for pregnant women includes prenatal care through pregnancy, labor, delivery and for 60 days after you deliver. Medicaid is administered by individual states, so income levels can vary. Some states have also loosened income eligibility for pregnant women, especially if your healthcare expenses are sufficiently high. Babies born to pregnant women who are receiving Medicaid are automatically eligible to receive Medicaid until their first birthday. Citizenship documentation is not required.
Medicaid helps finance 40 percent of all births in the U.S. And over 8.1 million children get healthcare coverage through CHIP.
Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
If you have children, you may be able to get healthcare coverage for them through the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Over 8.1 million children are enrolled in the program, which is administered by individual states. Coverage varies from state to state, but all cover check-ups, immunizations, hospitalizations, dental care, lab services and x-rays.
Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs (CYSHCN)
If you have a child with disabilities, the costs for his or her treatment can be daunting. Even if you are uninsured or underinsured and don’t qualify for Medicaid, you may be able to get healthcare assistance through Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs (CYSHCN). Your child must have special needs in order to qualify. These needs must be serious, long-lasting disabilities, including physical, behavioral or emotional issues. Eligibility varies according to your income, your child’s age and health condition, and the state in which you live. Services include assistive technology, early intervention and screening for health risks, and family support. Visit FamilyVoices.org and click on the state map for more information about your state’s particular programs. You can also contact your state’s Department of Health & Human Services for more information. The program’s name can vary from state to state.
When you prescribe medications, you can now educate and empower your patients about finding affordable prescription prices and saving money. This free program lets patients compare prices online, print coupons and save up to 80% at almost every U.S. pharmacy.
Skipping needed medication can lead to even more serious health problems. Many pharmaceutical companies have programs to provide medication for free or at a reduced cost. Research what help is available for your specific medications at RXAssist.org or the Partnership for Prescription Assistance. Your doctor may have to fill out or send in forms on your behalf. Each program has its own requirements, but generally, you’ll need to have no prescription insurance coverage, meet income guidelines, and be a U.S. citizen or legal resident.