HGH Financial Assistance Exceeds Half Million Dollar Mark

Eight months ago, Humboldt General Hospital set out to give away $1 million in financial aid. Now, officials say they're more than half way there.

As of the October 31 meeting of the Humboldt County Hospital District Board of Trustees, the hospital has given away $583,798 in medical expense as part of an expansion to the Charity Care Program that kicked off last spring.

March 1, the hospital expanded eligibility for its in-house financial aid from 144 percent of Federal Poverty Limits to 400 percent. Under the new guidelines, a family of four in Humboldt County could earn up to $90,000 in annual income and still qualify.

So far, 170 people have received help through the financial assistance program.

Humboldt General Hospital CEO/Administrator Jim Parrish said the expanded policy is the facility's way of funneling help to those most in need.

Parrish said the hospital considered many options for extending help to local residents, including cutting prices and/or providing large discounts for Humboldt County residents.

"But nearly every one of those scenarios resulted in big savings for insurance companies," he said, "and that's not who we wanted to help."

Parrish said the idea of augmenting the current Charity Care policy came as a "wonderful solution."

"It's a percentage based on income," he said, "so it's relative to each household and their individual circumstances."

Applicants are expected to exhaust all other payment sources as a condition for approval. For example, those who are eligible for Medicaid or Medicare will be required to apply for those programs before seeking Charity Care.

Additionally, the Charity Care program will not pay for any amounts that are already covered by Medicare, Medicaid or health insurance.

But residents are eligible to apply to help cover insurance deductibles and co-payments and/or amounts that are not covered by other payment sources.

And Parrish said with the help of the hospital's newly formed Patient Access to Healthcare Department, the process is painless.

"It's a quick application," he said. "We just need proof of income, or lack thereof, and the members of our Patient Access to Healthcare team help residents quickly understand their eligibility status."

The hospital is currently accepting Charity Care applications. Please stop by the hospital any time between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. to discuss eligibility with a Patient Access to Healthcare representative, or call (775) 623-5222, ext. 1130, for more information or to schedule an appointment.