"Bad Debt" Increases in Missouri Hospitals

7 years 9 months 2 weeks ago Wednesday, December 12 2012 Dec 12, 2012 Wednesday, December 12, 2012 7:41:00 PM CST December 12, 2012 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
GLASGOW - Part of our nation's pastime, can present a problem when it comes to some of the greatest players... More >>
5 hours ago Sunday, September 27 2020 Sep 27, 2020 Sunday, September 27, 2020 11:30:00 PM CDT September 27, 2020 in News
MEXICO - Two mid-Missouri locals rode 200 miles to spread awareness for Multiple Sclerosis and to help Bike MS of... More >>
7 hours ago Sunday, September 27 2020 Sep 27, 2020 Sunday, September 27, 2020 9:30:00 PM CDT September 27, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA - Fans mean just as much to Columbia businesses as they do to the MU football team. Philip... More >>
10 hours ago Sunday, September 27 2020 Sep 27, 2020 Sunday, September 27, 2020 6:39:00 PM CDT September 27, 2020 in News
(AP) - President Donald Trump paid no federal income taxes in 10 of the past 15 years, according to a... More >>
11 hours ago Sunday, September 27 2020 Sep 27, 2020 Sunday, September 27, 2020 5:02:00 PM CDT September 27, 2020 in News
OSAGE BEACH - Jefferson City Fire Department rescued three individuals stuck on a boat in Osage River Saturday afternoon. ... More >>
13 hours ago Sunday, September 27 2020 Sep 27, 2020 Sunday, September 27, 2020 2:53:00 PM CDT September 27, 2020 in News
(CNN) - A federal judge plans to rule tonight on whether downloads of TikTok may be banned in the United... More >>
16 hours ago Sunday, September 27 2020 Sep 27, 2020 Sunday, September 27, 2020 12:35:24 PM CDT September 27, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA - In the first game of the 2020 football season, the Missouri Tigers went up against powerhouse #2 Alabama... More >>
16 hours ago Sunday, September 27 2020 Sep 27, 2020 Sunday, September 27, 2020 12:34:00 PM CDT September 27, 2020 in Sports
As COVID-19 continues to spread, KOMU 8 will continue to update you about impacts in the community. Previous coverage: ... More >>
16 hours ago Sunday, September 27 2020 Sep 27, 2020 Sunday, September 27, 2020 12:12:00 PM CDT September 27, 2020 in Top Stories
JEFFERSON CITY - Governor Mike Parson ordered the Missouri State Capitol dome and the Missouri Governor's Mansion to shine red... More >>
17 hours ago Sunday, September 27 2020 Sep 27, 2020 Sunday, September 27, 2020 11:15:00 AM CDT September 27, 2020 in Top Stories
FERGUSON - A huge crowd of protesters packed Canfield Drive in Ferguson Saturday afternoon. It wasn't... More >>
17 hours ago Sunday, September 27 2020 Sep 27, 2020 Sunday, September 27, 2020 11:04:59 AM CDT September 27, 2020 in News
(CNN) - Persistence pays. Kevin Kinard was visiting Arkansas' Crater of Diamonds State Park when he discovered a 9.07 carat... More >>
18 hours ago Sunday, September 27 2020 Sep 27, 2020 Sunday, September 27, 2020 9:49:34 AM CDT September 27, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA – Mizzou's football fans are reconciling their team spirit with a global pandemic. The Tigers met Alabama at... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, September 26 2020 Sep 26, 2020 Saturday, September 26, 2020 7:57:00 PM CDT September 26, 2020 in News
HALLSVILLE – With the 2020 election fast approaching, a few Missouri politicians tried to sell themselves, from a cell. ... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, September 26 2020 Sep 26, 2020 Saturday, September 26, 2020 4:59:00 PM CDT September 26, 2020 in News
(CNN) -- President Donald Trump on Saturday said he is nominating Amy Coney Barrett , a conservative federal appeals court... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, September 26 2020 Sep 26, 2020 Saturday, September 26, 2020 4:20:23 PM CDT September 26, 2020 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Today marked the 20th anniversary of Jefferson City’s Oktoberfest and while there were doubts over whether or... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, September 26 2020 Sep 26, 2020 Saturday, September 26, 2020 3:09:00 PM CDT September 26, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA - Columbia Public School's Dr. Peter Stiepleman was named 2021 Superintendent of the Year by Missouri Association of School... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, September 26 2020 Sep 26, 2020 Saturday, September 26, 2020 2:06:00 PM CDT September 26, 2020 in News
As COVID-19 continues to spread, KOMU 8 will continue to update you about impacts in the community. Previous coverage: ... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, September 26 2020 Sep 26, 2020 Saturday, September 26, 2020 10:09:00 AM CDT September 26, 2020 in News
STE. GENEVIEVE - Blair Oaks' 51 regular season game win streak ended against Valle Catholic on Friday. Blair Oaks fell... More >>
2 days ago Friday, September 25 2020 Sep 25, 2020 Friday, September 25, 2020 8:47:00 PM CDT September 25, 2020 in Friday Night Fever
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 52°
5am 50°
6am 50°
7am 49°
8am 51°