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Title: Best Kept Secrets: Are Non-Profit Hospitals Informing Patients About Charity Care Programs?

Copyright Date: May 2010

Pages: 18

Authors: Carol Pryor, Mark Rukavina, Alex Hoffman, and Aaron Lee, The Access Project

Description: Charity care refers to free or discounted care provided to persons who meet a health care organization’s criteria for financial assistance.  Non-profit hospitals, as charities, receive significant tax exemptions; in exchange, they are expected to provide benefits to their communities, including charity care.  Over the last decade numerous sources have documented the failure of many hospitals to inform patients about financial assistance programs.  However, the American Hospital Association (AHA) maintains that the voluntary guidelines it developed regarding the provision of financial assistance and charity care are sufficient and mandatory requirements are unnecessary.

This report presents the findings of a survey of non-profit hospitals to see if they are conforming to the AHA guidelines that require them to develop written charity care policies and make them widely available.  The survey showed that many non-profit hospitals are still not adequately informing the public about their charity care policies.

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Topics: Hospital Billing and Collection