February 11, 2010
By Adam Linker
- Hospitals serve as critical safety-net providers for people seeking medical care. In fiscal year 2008, North Carolina hospitals provided $694 million in free care.
- All 112 hospitals in North Carolina maintain websites, and 72 hospitals, or 63 percent, currently post some information about financial assistance policies online.
- Out of 112 hospitals, 39, or 35 percent, post comprehensive charity care policies online.
- Several hospitals and hospital systems deserve special recognition for providing charity-care levels that exceed the cost of living for their regions, including Novant Health, UNC Health Care, University Health Systems of Eastern North Carolina, Iredell Memorial Hospital, the Outer Banks Hospital, High Point Regional Health System and Margaret R. Pardee Memorial Hospital.
- Every hospital in the state should post a comprehensive charity-care policy online, including income eligibility levels, asset limits, and catastrophic discounts.
- Hospitals should strive to provide free care to families earning less than 200 percent of federal poverty level and provide some discount to families earning less than 300 percent of federal poverty level. Hospitals should consider benchmarking charity-care policies to a reasonable cost-of-living index like the Living Income Standard.
MAJOR SUPPORT IS PROVIDED FOR THIS WORK FROM THE COMMUNITY CATALYST HOSPITAL ACCOUNTABILITY PROJECT