Save Money in this Sunday's paper

comments

Proving need isn’t easy for patients

Providing financial details can overwhelm people who are sick or recovering

More Information


At some North Carolina hospitals, qualifying for charity care can be onerous.

Among the pieces of information that Carolinas Medical Center-Pineville requested in its 2010 charity care application:

• Details on all forms of income, including alimony, child support and unemployment.

• The tax values and loan amounts on all vehicles and real estate owned.

• The account numbers and amounts deposited in all checking and savings accounts, CDs, stocks and bonds – along with the last deposit in each.

• The cash value and face values of any life insurance and burial insurance contracts.

When people are sick or recovering from serious medical problems, providing all that information can be daunting, patient advocates say.

“We’ve talked with some people who, when confronted with an application like that, said, ‘I didn’t even bother applying,’ ” said Mark Rukavina, executive director of the Access Project, a group working to improve access to health care.

Some hospitals make it easier for patients to qualify. Novant Health, for instance, does “soft” credit checks on uninsured patients to determine whether they’re eligible for charity care.

Carolinas HealthCare System, which owns CMC-Pineville, said it “would be irresponsible” not to ask patients for financial information as it determines whether they are eligible for assistance.

“Our process follows industry standard, and we believe it balances the need to make accurate decisions with not overburdening the patient and family with information and document requests,” system officials wrote in response to the Observer’s questions.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.

Have a news tip? You can send it to a local news editor; email local@charlotteobserver.com to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Charlotte Observer.

  Read more



Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.

Have a news tip? You can send it to a local news editor; email local@charlotteobserver.com to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Charlotte Observer.

  Read more


Quick Job Search
Salary Databases