Every year U.S. hospitals and affiliated physician practice groups receive millions of applications for medical debt relief submitted by individual patients and by families in financial distress. All financial assistance applications are submitted privately by ordinary, hard-working people, as well as the unemployed and the disabled, college students and foreign patients facing minor to major healthcare problems coupled with debilitating financial distress. Individual medical debts range from below one hundred dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Many applicants believe there is a funded account in place to help applicants obtain debt relief from hospitals and affiliated physicians practice groups. The fact is, there is often no such relief account or program in place. Most financial relief for medical debts provided to applicants represent a loss of personal and corporate income by the attending physicians and or by the attending hospital.
Based on the poverty guidelines applicable for evaluation, up to 80% of applicants may qualify for assistance. Therefore, it is simply not possible for healthcare providers to process medical debt relief applications without applying additional criteria beyond the poverty guideline consideration. Some applicants can qualify for all requirements set for granting assistance but wind up being denied due to various factors including but not limited to:
- residence outside the service area
- non-citizenship, etc.
The undeniable fact is that healthcare providers must also control the volume of charity allowances in order to avoid financial distress upon themselves.