It’s rare for a day to go by without the BayCare financial assistance team receiving a thank you or a card or some other form of thanks from a patient. That’s because the health system’s commitment to serve all patients and community members with financial assistance counseling and enrollment efforts has had a significant impact on community access to care over the past 15 years.
BayCare dedicates approximately 80 full-time team members to working exclusively with uninsured and underinsured patients. Every BayCare hospital includes a staff with a minimum of three team members assisting patients seven days a week, ten hours a day, including a case worker that meets with uninsured patients in the hospital, and two representatives in the emergency department.
“Thank you so much for helping me during my recovery after breast cancer. If I hadn’t had you to navigate the paperwork, calls to Medicaid, and keeping me current on my recertification with Medicaid, I honestly don’t know what I would have done. Because of your excellent care and work on my behalf, I was able to rest and heal. Thank you and bless you for the difference you made in my life – I will always be grateful.”– Recent BayCare Patient
Team members meet with patients to determine any form of health-related assistance they may qualify for, ranging from free care, insurance enrollment, prescription assistance, and connections to free community resources, like community clinics. Patients with income up to 250% of the federal poverty level receive free care under BayCare’s financial assistance policy. In addition, case workers, ER representatives and navigators help patients enroll in Medicaid, Medicare, and through the federal health insurance exchange if they are eligible for subsidies.
Every year, BayCare’s financial assistance team assists approximately 70,000 patients. In addition, the team has assisted with 4,000 insurance enrollments and re-enrollments since the Health Insurance Marketplace opened in fall of 2013.
“I can honestly say that at 63 years old I have never experienced being so destitute. I have come to realize that one never knows what life has in store. There are no words to express my utmost gratitude for all your help – your sincere compassion, your respect, and your kindness and also for the Financial Assistance program. This is my ‘Saving Grace’.” – Recent BayCare Patient
Because the volume of uninsured and underinsured patients is so large, BayCare has invested in a paperless system that automates the process as much as possible, including a software system that quickly identifies what patients may be eligible for. The system, in combination with BayCare team members, helps patients enroll in a variety of programs with little or no paperwork for the patients to complete. Although many of the programs patients are enrolled in do not benefit BayCare financially, the work of the financial assistance team is an extension of BayCare’s passion and commitment to serve the community.
In addition to offering a financial assistance policy that is beyond what is required and dedicating significant resources to helping uninsured and underinsured patients access critical programs and services, BayCare supports free clinics in the community, and has formed partnerships with local community agencies to ensure access to needed health care.