LEE HEALTH’S UN­SUNG HE­ROES

Fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance eases road to re­cov­ery

RSWLiving - - Contents - BY KALI LYNCH Kali Lynch is a me­dia re­la­tions spe­cial­ist for Lee Health in Fort My­ers.

Fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance eases road to re­cov­ery

top of pain and fear, med­i­cal di­ag­no­sis or se­ri­ous in­jury elic­its sig­nif­i­cant anx­i­ety and stress. Fi­nan­cial hard­ships com­pound that stress. But, while health care is ex­pen­sive, it isn’t com­pletely out of reach for the peo­ple of South­west Florida be­cause fi­nan­cial help and the un­sung he­roes at Lee Health are avail­able. “Lee Health has a com­pre­hen­sive Fi­nan­cial As­sis­tance Pol­icy, or FAP, to treat pa­tients re­sid­ing in Lee, Char­lotte, Collier, Glades and Hendry coun­ties,” ex­plains Patti O’Brien, Lee Health direc­tor of Re­ceiv­ables Man­age­ment of Busi­ness Op­er­a­tions. “Lee Health is com­mit­ted to pro­vid­ing emer­gency med­i­cal care and med­i­cally nec­es­sary care at its hos­pi­tals to per­sons who have health care needs and are un­able to pay.”

Fi­nan­cial As­sis­tance Pol­icy el­i­gi­bil­ity re­quires pa­tients to be unin­sured and meet cer­tain house­hold in­come lev­els. De­pend­ing on where a pa­tient’s in­come falls on the fed­eral poverty level, he or she may only hav e to pay 20 per­cent of the med­i­cal ex­penses. Pa­tients whose gross fam­ily in­come is not more than 200 per­cent of the fed­eral poverty level usu­ally will not have to pay any of their hospi­tal bills. The FAP also cov­ers Lee Physi­cian Group doc­tors pro­vid­ing emer­gency med­i­cal ser­vices and med­i­cally nec­es­sary care in Lee Health hos­pi­tals.

O’Brien and her un­sung hero team of 20 cus­tomer ser­vice spe­cial­ists work hard to help pa­tients nav­i­gate their op­tions— whether that is fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance or estab­lish­ing pay­ment plans. O’Brien’s of­fice fields an av­er­age of 10,000 in­com­ing calls per month, and her team wrote off more than $220 mil­lion of care last fis­cal year. The team also helps con­nect pa­tients to other as­sis­tance pro­grams avail­able in the com­mu­nity, such as grants to help with chemo­ther­apy ex­penses or char­i­ta­ble funds that help pay for CAT (computerized ax­ial to­mog­ra­phy) scans, MRIs (mag­netic res­o­nance imag­ing) or spe­cialty care for chil­dren. “Be­tween Lee Health, Lee Com­mu­nity Healthcare, the United Way, the Healthcare Net­work of South­west Florida, the Sal­va­tion Army and oth­ers,” O’Brien says, “we’re all work­ing to­gether to pro­vide qual­ity health care that is as af­ford­able as pos­si­ble.

“Per­son­ally, I feel very proud to do the work I do every day, and to work with the team I work with. I feel like we re­ally make a dif­fer­ence—we help al­le­vi­ate some of our pa­tients’ fears, anx­i­eties and stress, and we try to help them fo­cus on get­ting bet­ter.”

O’Brien says it is im­por­tant for those hav­ing re­ceived hospi­tal ser­vices and need­ing fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance to con­tact her team. The cus­tomer ser­vice spe­cial­ists are avail­able 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Mon­day through Fri­day, to as­sist and an­swer ques­tions. Appointments are also avail­able. Help ap­ply­ing for Med­i­caid, dis­abil­ity and Af­ford­able Care Act in­sur­ance is also avail­able at the hos­pi­tals.

For more than 100 years, Lee Health has served the peo­ple of South­west Florida—re­gard­less of their fi­nan­cial or in­sur­ance sta­tus. Patti O’Brien and her team may not ad­min­is­ter the med­i­cal treat­ment, but the care they pro­vide makes a big dif­fer­ence in each pa­tient’s road to re­cov­ery.

More in­for­ma­tion about the Fi­nan­cial As­sis­tance Pol­icy is avail­able on­line at lee­health.org.

Lee Health's team in­cludes ( from left) Dei­dra Bel­ton, Fi­nan­cial As­sis­tance, Adri­enne Jones, Fi­nan­cial As­sis­tance and Sherisse Wash­ing­ton, Pa­tient Busi­ness Ser­vices Rep­re­sen­ta­tive

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