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
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.