At Olathe Health, we continuously review our systems and procedures regarding financial assistance to make sure they are best serving our patients. Over the past three years, we have implemented changes to improve our financial assistance program, and recently updated our collection actions. These changes include:
- In 2017, Olathe Health contracted with CarePayment to provide an alternative payment option for patients. CarePayment is a healthcare financing program that offers patients affordable financing options if they need help paying their medical bills over an extended period of time. This program does not affect the patient’s credit score and does not include interest. This is a program Olathe Health invests in to help alleviate medical debt and burden for our patients.
- In the last several months, we increased the minimum bill balance of pursuable action to $750 from the previous $500 threshold. Our collection practices are in accordance with the IRS 501 (r) regulations.
Unfortunately, as you can see from national trends, the number of uninsured and underinsured patients in America continues to increase. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 27.5 million Americans did not have health insurance in 2018. The rate of uninsured Americans recently hit its highest rate since 2014. In addition, many Americans are underinsured because of higher deductibles and changes in insurance plans, or do not have access to Medicare or Medicaid.
We are actively trying to help improve access and coverage in our state. Last year, Olathe Health hosted leaders from both parties (Governor Laura Kelly and Senator Jim Denning) to discuss Medicaid expansion in Kansas and the role of non-profit hospitals in our community.
Charity Care and Other Financial Assistance at Olathe Health
At Olathe Health, we offer several different programs to assist patients in paying their bills. This includes assistance obtaining public health insurance (if eligible), providing charity care (financial assistance), or establishing a payment plan through CarePayment.
Charity care is provided to qualified individuals who are uninsured or underinsured to help with their cost of medical services. The amount of charity care Olathe Health offers has risen steadily over the years, especially over the last five years. In 2018, Olathe Medical Center and Miami County Medical Center combined provided a total of approximately $14.4 million in charity care. Patients whose household income is up to 300 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines may be eligible for charity care.
We also provide patients with help determining if they qualify for other forms of assistance, such as Medicaid, Disability, Crime Victims Compensation and Health Insurance Marketplace plans.
As outlined earlier, Olathe Health offers CarePayment. This is a program that offers patients affordable financing options over an extended period of time with no interest included.
Regarding Collection Practices:
Pursuing legal action to collect on medical bills is a last resort for Olathe Health. It’s important to note that for most healthcare networks, as is the case for Olathe Health, patients are billed by multiple entities based on the services received. For example, if you visit Olathe Medical Center or Miami County Medical Center, or a department of one of the hospitals, you may receive more than one bill. You would receive a bill for the hospital services, and you may also receive separate bills from physicians who were involved in your care, including emergency, anesthesiology, pathology and radiology.
The financial assistance policy and collection actions for Emergency Medicine Care, LLC, are determined and implemented by that company, which is not a part of the Olathe Health System, Inc. Questions about its processes would need to be directed to them.
We exhaust several attempts to accommodate a patient’s financial needs before the account is turned over to a collection agency. The patient is informed of all the financial assistance opportunities outlined above. Multiple billing statements are mailed over the course of 90 days after the date of discharge to the last known mailing address. Each billing statement contains a visible notice of the availability of and information about how to apply for financial assistance. The patient’s account is then provided to CarePayment to attempt to set up a payment plan. If no plan or contact is made, the patient is then sent a letter informing them their account is being sent to a collection agency for non-payment. The letter outlines the possible collection actions that may follow if payment is not arranged. For a successful financial arrangement, it’s reliant on the patient to communicate with the company providing the assistance.
Olathe Health policy prohibits extraordinary collection actions such as liens on a primary residence, arrests, or body attachments as part of the collection process.
About Olathe Health
Olathe Health is a regional health network that serves southern Johnson, Miami, Linn and Franklin counties through Olathe Medical Center, Miami County Medical Center, and the 40 family care and specialty clinics of Olathe Health Physicians. The Olathe Health Charitable Foundation is a 501(c)3 organization that raises funds to support Olathe Health System, Inc. The Olathe Health Development Corp. was created to run any for-profit company owned by Olathe Health System, Inc. At this time, we do not have any for-profit companies.
As a non-profit organization, we believe that everyone has the right to have access to quality healthcare. In addition to caring for patients within our walls, we spend a significant portion of our operating budget on financial support of other non-profit programs and organizations that work to make the region a healthier place to live. Examples of these programs include our financial and staffing support of the Health Partnership Clinic, providing funding for the Mobile Integrated Healthcare team through the Olathe Fire Department, and donating funds to TLC for Children and Families.
If you would like more detailed information about our financial assistance policy and application form, you can find that here: https://www.olathehealth.org/patients-and-visitors/financial-assistance.