"Bad Debt" Increases in Missouri Hospitals

4 years 5 months 2 weeks ago December 12, 2012 Dec 12, 2012 Wednesday, December 12 2012 Wednesday, December 12, 2012 7:41:00 PM CST in News
By: Stacey Welsh
loading

MARSHALL - Bad debt is a growing problem at Fitzgibbon Hospital. It is money a hospital expects patients to pay, but never receives.

"Bad debt is defined by a patient knowing what they owe for 120 days and not setting up a payment plan, not contacting us and not paying us, and then it goes to bad debt," Fitzgibbon Hospital Chief Financial Officer Roberta Nienhueser said.

According to the hospital's IRS 990 tax forms, bad debt has increased from more than $4 million in 2009, to more than $5 million in 2010, to more than $6 million last year.

"This last year, our bad debt was like 14 percent of our revenue, which is very difficult to manage," Nienhueser said. The hospital is trying hard to identify patients who need assistance early in the process so they can at least be classified as financial assistance care rather than "bad debt," she said.

"We will allow them up to 24 months to pay it off with no interest. If they can't pay it, we ask them to fill out financial assistance forms... We try and work with them," Nienhueser said.

Fitzgibbon is far from the only hospital in the state experiencing high levels of patients unable to pay their bills. According to the Missouri Hospital Association, hospitals across the state are holding about $480 million in bad debt.

Capital Region Medical Center in Jefferson City has also seen its bad debt on the rise in the last few years. Bad debt there has increased 27 percent since 2010, Director of Patient Financial Services Debby Froebel said. Fiscal year 2010 saw $5,095,496 in bad debt. The current fiscal year is trending toward above $7 million.

Although Fitzgibbon is a not-for-profit hospital, there is only so much uncompensated care it can provide. There is no set limit on charity care, and it varies from year to year. Nienhueser estimates Fitzgibbon sees about five people in the hospital's emergency room each day who don't have insurance. The ER is also the most expensive area of care the hospital provides.

"When [patients come into the emergency room] for care, their condition is so much worse than it would have been had they gotten regular primary care or maintenance on a chronic condition," MHA spokesman Dave Dillon said. "The costs are just very, very high."

Fulton resident Missy Taylor said she has gone to the emergency room on several occasions because she does not have insurance coverage. She and her husband run an invisible fence business out of their house.

"I'm not employed, so therefore I don't have any insurance whatsoever," Taylor said. "I had back surgery and knee surgery last year." Taylor said her medical bills are stacking up, and she needs insurance coverage.

Having insurance does not always mean patients can pay their bills. Fitzgibbon's Neinhueser said high-deductible insurance plans have played an increasing role in bad debt growth.
With some plans requiring patients to pay the first $5,000 of a medical bill, for many, there is little difference in not having any insurance at all.

Froebel said CRMC has also been tracking bad debt write-offs. "We see that it is growing in the people who owe co-pays and balances after insurance faster than true uninsured," Froebel said. "Those who have insurance basically due to increased higher deductibles and co-insurance owe this."

There is hope that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, will provide another option for people who do not have employer-provided insurance. It would establish state-run exchanges where people could shop for more affordable insurance plans. Plans would vary by the amount of coverage required:

• Bronze policy: 60 percent coverage
• Silver policy: 70 percent coverage
• Gold policy: 80 percent coverage
• Platinum policy: 90 percent coverage

The Silver policy would be the benchmark policy in most states, meaning the one most people will choose.

Dillon said the MHA is not sure what will happen when the ACA goes into effect. "The Affordable Care Act is not fully implemented... Most of the provisions that relate to insurance will probably kick in in 2014," Dillon said.

Fitzgibbon Hospital also said the act's effect will depend on future health insurance exchange rates. More insurance coverage could mean fewer bad debts, but more individual coverage under the act might not mean only good things for the hospital.

"We'll be expected to do more for more people with less money is our expectation," Nienhueser said. "Hopefully, we're wrong."

Bad Debt in Missouri Hospitals

More News

Grid
List
COLUMBIA- The Columbia Police Department is joining forces with the You Have Options Program to counter sexual assault. The... More >>
1 hour ago May 29, 2017 May 29, 2017 Monday, May 29 2017 Monday, May 29, 2017 7:26:00 AM CDT in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — A class-action lawsuit has been filed on behalf of about 80 inmates serving life sentences in... More >>
1 hour ago May 29, 2017 May 29, 2017 Monday, May 29 2017 Monday, May 29, 2017 6:55:41 AM CDT in News
SEDALIA (AP) — A central Missouri man has been ordered to spend 12 years in prison after pleading guilty to... More >>
2 hours ago May 29, 2017 May 29, 2017 Monday, May 29 2017 Monday, May 29, 2017 6:12:00 AM CDT in News
COLUMBIA – The MU Veterinary Health Center recently added a new section - the Motion Analysis Laboratory - to track... More >>
10 hours ago May 28, 2017 May 28, 2017 Sunday, May 28 2017 Sunday, May 28, 2017 9:46:00 PM CDT in News
MORGAN COUNTY - The National Weather Service (NWS) from Springfield, Missouri has conducted a review of damage in extreme southeastern... More >>
14 hours ago May 28, 2017 May 28, 2017 Sunday, May 28 2017 Sunday, May 28, 2017 6:09:00 PM CDT in Top Stories
COLUMBIA – Volunteer security guards and local police officers are making sure the 29 th Annual Salute to Veterans Air... More >>
18 hours ago May 28, 2017 May 28, 2017 Sunday, May 28 2017 Sunday, May 28, 2017 1:43:00 PM CDT in News
BRANSON, Mo. (AP) — Authorities have recovered two bodies and are searching for a third person after their vehicle was... More >>
18 hours ago May 28, 2017 May 28, 2017 Sunday, May 28 2017 Sunday, May 28, 2017 1:38:00 PM CDT in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Relatives of two of four people killed when a steam-filled tank weighing nearly 2,000 pounds (900... More >>
18 hours ago May 28, 2017 May 28, 2017 Sunday, May 28 2017 Sunday, May 28, 2017 1:33:00 PM CDT in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — St. Louis police say a man who barricaded himself inside a home repeatedly fired at officers... More >>
1 day ago May 27, 2017 May 27, 2017 Saturday, May 27 2017 Saturday, May 27, 2017 6:54:00 PM CDT in News
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City, Missouri, police say they are searching for a man who shot two people,... More >>
1 day ago May 27, 2017 May 27, 2017 Saturday, May 27 2017 Saturday, May 27, 2017 6:46:00 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA - A new business pushes it’s clients to their limit and has them sweating bullets. Two former NFL... More >>
1 day ago May 27, 2017 May 27, 2017 Saturday, May 27 2017 Saturday, May 27, 2017 5:06:00 PM CDT in Sports
COLUMBIA - A resettlement agency supporting refugees had a surplus in donations, so it decided to sell some of its... More >>
1 day ago May 27, 2017 May 27, 2017 Saturday, May 27 2017 Saturday, May 27, 2017 4:47:00 PM CDT in News
As of 6:00 p.m. 23,491 Electric Cooperative member-consumers are without power As of 5:37 p.m. Saturday, Ameren reports that... More >>
1 day ago May 27, 2017 May 27, 2017 Saturday, May 27 2017 Saturday, May 27, 2017 4:21:00 PM CDT in Top Stories
JEFFERSON CITY - Traditional Native American food, crafts and dancing can be found at the tenth annual "For the People"... More >>
1 day ago May 27, 2017 May 27, 2017 Saturday, May 27 2017 Saturday, May 27, 2017 3:48:00 PM CDT in Top Stories
COLUMBIA - Two teens were arrested early Saturday morning in relation to an armed robbery Friday night. Columbia Police... More >>
1 day ago May 27, 2017 May 27, 2017 Saturday, May 27 2017 Saturday, May 27, 2017 3:46:00 PM CDT in Top Stories
BOONE COUNTY - One person was extricated from a vehicle and taken to the hospital with serious injuries after a... More >>
1 day ago May 27, 2017 May 27, 2017 Saturday, May 27 2017 Saturday, May 27, 2017 2:53:00 PM CDT in Top Stories
COLUMBIA— The start of the ninth annual Pedaler’s Jamboree was held on Saturday. Nine years ago when the event... More >>
1 day ago May 27, 2017 May 27, 2017 Saturday, May 27 2017 Saturday, May 27, 2017 2:24:00 PM CDT in Continuous News
COLUMBIA - The 29th Annual Salute to Veterans Air Show is scheduled for Saturday, May 27, and Sunday, May 28... More >>
1 day ago May 27, 2017 May 27, 2017 Saturday, May 27 2017 Saturday, May 27, 2017 2:10:00 PM CDT in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 63°
9am 67°
10am 73°
11am 76°
12pm 79°

Select a station to view its upcoming schedule:

Coming Up Next

7:00a
Today
11:00a
Rachael Ray
12:00p
2017 French Open
8:00a
The Steve Wilkos Show
9:00a
The Steve Wilkos Show
10:00a
Jerry Springer

Tonight's Schedule

7:00p
2017 Stanley Cup Final
7:00p
Supergirl
8:00p
Whose Line Is It Anyway?
8:30p
Whose Line Is It Anyway?
9:00p
KOMU 8 News @ Nine on The CW
9:30p
Seinfeld