Monday Medical: YVMC gives patients financial assistance | SteamboatToday.com
Riley Polumbus

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Monday Medical: YVMC gives patients financial assistance

Regardless of financial circumstances, your health must remain a priority. That is why, in these troubled economic times, your community hospital wants to be sure you can access health care services.

Yampa Valley Medical Center knows that with increasing health care costs, some people are reluctant to get the medical care they need. YVMC understands and has responded by increasing its available financial assistance funding.

In YVMC’s fiscal year 2008, which ended on Sept. 30, the hospital provided more than $2.3 million in financial aid to patients.

“Compassion is one of our core values,” YVMC’s Senior Director of Revenue Cycle Mike Nelson said. “We continue to expand and improve upon our Financial Assistance Program to make it easier for our patients to enter the process.”

In addition to increasing available funds, YVMC also has made it easier for patients to find out whether they meet the required guidelines.

Kris Seybold, patient financial counselor at YVMC, knows that facing medical bills and the accompanying paperwork can be overwhelming.

“We see it all the time,” Seybold said. “Someone who could easily qualify for financial assistance will start the process and never complete the paperwork.”

That is why she developed a new questionnaire that quickly evaluates potential applicants. This short form takes a patient just a few minutes to fill out and submit. The patient can expect to hear back from YVMC’s finance department within a week. For urgent care, patients can receive an answer right away.

“We want people to know that there is relief available,” Seybold said. “No one should ever forego health care because they are afraid of bills. We can help.”

There are two financial assistance programs available for those who meet the guidelines. YVMC is a Colorado Indigent Care Program (CICP) provider. CICP offers assistance to those who are uninsured or under-insured. In addition, YVMC’s own financial aid program can help those who do not qualify for CICP, as long as they fall within the guidelines.

Even patients who carry health insurance might be eligible for some relief. It is important to understand that financial assistance is not insurance; it simply can help individuals reduce their medical bill.

So, for families or individuals facing high deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses, the YVMC programs can help with the balance that remains after insurance has paid its portion.

“Financial assistance can be applied to all the services we provide here at the hospital,” Seybold said. “There are so many examples of people receiving assistance, for everything from an X-ray to a multi-day stay,” she said.

A recent recipient finally received the orthopaedic surgery he had put off for years.

Even longer-term services, such as physical therapy, could be covered. One Routt County family who recently was accepted will receive financial assistance for their son’s pediatric therapy, Seybold said.

Not all services provided at a hospital are billed by the hospital. Surgeons and anesthesiologists, for example, send separate statements that are not automatically covered by CICP and YVMC’s programs. However, most of the physicians who practice at YVMC do participate in CICP, Nelson said.

Patients can apply for financial assistance before they receive medical care to see exactly what can be covered. It is also available retroactively for those with past debt. Seybold encourages people who still have bills from the last several years to apply.

To get started, go to http://www.yvmc.org/assistance where the questionnaire can be printed out. An online form will be coming soon. Or, potential applicants can stop by YVMC and pick up a paper copy of the form.

Although the information must be supplied by the applicant, a friend or a family member can help with the application.

Those who do not fall within the guidelines and still need help paying their bill can set up a payment plan, which is interest-free if paid in 10 months or fewer.

With the uncertainty of our local and global economic health, two things are for certain: People will need medical assistance, and YVMC wants to make sure our community has a healthy new year.

Riley Polumbus is communications specialist at Yampa Valley Medical Center. She can be reached at riley.polumbus@yvmc.org