New York State Hospitals Step Up - Providing for Those Without Affordable Medical Insurance
Recent legislation scheduled to begin this year mandates that New York State Hospitals provide healthcare and financial assistance to those seeking treatment at the hospitals without medical coverage. This is good news for the thousands of New Yorkers who find themselves without access to affordable health insurance. Under the plan those who come to a New York State Hospital without adequate medical insurance cannot be charged any more for healthcare services than a Medicaid recipient or a person with health insurance would be charged.
Under the new law, anyone whose income is below three times the poverty level or, $49,800.00 for a family of three, cannot be charged any more then an insurance company, or a person with medical coverage through Medicare or Medicaid. For any patient earning less then 2 and a half times the poverty figure or $41,500.00 for a family of three must be charged fees on a sliding scale. The law also requires that area hospitals enact a financial assistance program to help the poor, uninsured and underinsured. Prior to the law people without insurance were charged what are called rack rates at hospitals, which are drastically higher then those who have access to affordable health insurance pay.
A spokesman for the Healthcare Association of New York State said that Hospitals already receive over 800 million dollars in federal fund every year to provide healthcare to the poor and uninsured, this law will help to make sure that consumers without affordable medical coverage get access to the care, and the funds are used for what they are intended. Under the new law hospitals are not only required to provide the care at the fee scales specified, but must make patients aware of the program in simple to understand language. Also hospitals are now required to inform patients about financial assistance programs before initiating any collection procedures on delinquent accounts.
Many hospitals have already been complying with the program, such as St. Peters Hospital in Albany. They provide completely free care to any one who is within 200% of the poverty level, and are not eligible for other government programs. Others who earn more but are without health insurance are charged fees that are somewhere in-between what insures and Medicare and Medicaid. Elmer Streeter with the Hospital says the program is a huge success and truly appreciated by the community.
Programs like these are helping the still over 45 million Americans without access to medical coverage. For those who do not live in New York State or do not qualify for such programs, private insurers and community leaders continue to work together to provide affordable health insurance options.