Is every other American just one illness away from bankruptcy due to medical bills? Do you know someone who has skipped a physical or diagnostic testing because they dreaded the unwanted bills? This seems to be the case with many Americans who are uninsured, all it takes is one trip to the emergency room and you would be surprise with the amount of debt you just inherited. In 2012, the United Census Bureau reported over 48 million Americans were living without health insurance and nearly half of them have outstanding medical bills averaging at least $9,000. Studies show that many people are more likely to go without preventive care from a primary care physician or services for chronic health conditions due to the lack of health insurance but when sickness occur, they tend run to the emergency department for medical treatment and are charge more for services rendered then insured patients (Kaiser Family Foundation, 2013). A bulk of the time the uninsured cannot pay the medical bills which in turn has the health system looking for alternatives ways to make up the cost. According to the National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems (NAPH), the number of uninsured and under insured patients continued to increase within the last few years resulting in a severe financial strain within the health system.
The economic downturn has led to a greater amount of uninsured patients seeking care in the emergency departments and due to the Emergency Medical Treatment & Labor Act (EMTALA) hospitals are required to provide emergency services to individuals regardless of their financial situation. This laws was designed to ensure that individuals would get the adequate emergency care regardless of their ability to pay.
Form a financial perspective, the financial management staff sole responsibility lies within the process of making important financial decision that will keep the hospital running effectively no matter what. Although many these facilities offer charity programs for uninsured patients, the financial staff is still force to make drastic changes within the facility like budget cuts and enforcing debt collection to balance out the uncompensated care cost. In some cases, it has been report across the country that some hospitals have taken drastic measures to collect debt from uninsured patients who could not pay their medical bills. They tend to hire outside collection agencies to collect unpaid debt and these collection agencies have been reported to use strong arm tactics to collect the debt by wage garnishing, liens on patients’ property or applying steep interest rates on top of a massive bill they already cannot afford. According to Houston Press, this was the measure that Memorial Herman Health System took when a patient by the name of Ignacio Alaniz who was uninsured and unable to his massive hospital bill. In 2012, Alaniz was doing some work under his car when all of sudden he was run over by his car crushing his rib cage. Due to life threating injuries, he was air lifted to the hospital. By the time the helicopter landed, Alaniz was already in debt by $12,000. Alaniz spent the next few days in ICU and his bills continue to escalate. During his stay, a financial counselor assured Alaniz and his girlfriend that Memorial Hermann was a non-profit hospital that offered charity assistance. On January 5, 2013, Alaniz was served papers informing him that he was being sued by Memorial Herman Health System for $456,675.23 the sum of his bill plus interest and $2,500 in legal fees (Wray, 2013).
When it comes to treating uninsured patients, I do not believe there is a differences in the way non-profit and for-profit organization are impacted because both organizations are set out to keep the doors of their organization open and gain a profit in return. Just because a facility is designated as a non-profit organization does not mean that the organization does not intend to