Issue Task Forces
Linda J. Slavik
Office Wish List
Hit Counter started 7/1/01
CHARITY CARE PATIENTS' BILL OF RIGHTS
1. Every uninsured and underinsured patient has the right to quality health care and to be treated with respect. There should be no discrimination in the quality of care provided to any hospital patient based on insurance status or financial situation; all people have an equal right to the highest quality of medical care available.
2. Every uninsured and underinsured patient has the right to clear and accurate information about the availability of charity care in their native language. This includes but is not necessarily limited to clear signage, readily available brochures, and applications printed in every language spoken in a hospital's service area; professionally trained intake personnel who are knowledgeable and helpful; and a hotline for charity care questions.
5. Every uninsured and underinsured patient has the right to apply for charity care and to receive financial assistance in a timely manner at a level appropriate to their situation. The hospital should exercise consistent and generous standards for charity care awards, overseen by a committee with community representation, following a specific, published timeline for response to applications.
6. Every uninsured and underinsured patient has the right to a clear, simple charity care application process. Charity care patients are often a vulnerable population, whether due to language barriers, financial stress, poor health and physical limitations, or all of the above. Hospitals should provide a simple application, streamlined as much as possible to be user-friendly, and requiring a minimum number of documents. Hospitals should keep charity care records in their database for at least one year so that patients with multiple visits need not re-apply for charity care with each visit.
4. Every uninsured and underinsured patient has the right to personalized assistance in completing the charity care application process. Hospitals shall provide patients with financial counselors who can speak their native language and provide assistance through every phase of the charity care application process. Patients should be offered this opportunity as standard procedure before being discharged from the hospital or receiving any bill, or at any time after that when a patient requests it. These counselors will also assist uninsured and underinsured patients seek charity care for other expenses associated with their hospitalizations such as physicians’ fees, lab fees, and ambulance services.
6. Every uninsured and underinsured patient has the right to a charity care appeal process. Hospital should have an established appeals process for patients who wish to contest a hospital’s decision regarding their charity care eligibility.
7. Every uninsured and underinsured patient has the right to freedom from receiving hospital bills and collection calls and contacts during the Charity Care application process. The hospital should refrain from all communication with the patient which can be interpreted as billing or threatening legal action for unpaid bills while a charity care application is in process.
8. Every uninsured and underinsured patient has the right to charity care for preventive and maintenance care. This will also reduce healthcare costs in the long run, as preventative and maintenance care limit expensive visits to emergency rooms in addition to promoting wellness.
9. The citizens of Cook County have the right to hold non-profit hospitals accountable to their charitable obligations. Individual hospitals should submit a report on charity care and bad debt annually that includes the number of total uninsured and underinsured patients they have admitted and the total cost associated with those patients.
This documented was developed in early 2008 by leaders within LAC in coordination with groups across Cook County as a part of the work of the Charity Care Coalition.
Do you feel like these rights have been violated? Contact Joline at 773-549-1947 x 387.