Small costs in large numbers


Charity Care

Family away from home

Getting beyond the red tape

Getting to graduation

Small costs in large numbers

No one else to ask

Slender and pale and in her early 50s, Kristina Carter appeared to be relatively healthy.

But she came to Emory University Hospital Midtown (EUHM) for back pain that made it hard to concentrate at her office job. Why yes, she told the doctor, she had broken a couple of bones in the past 10 years, and no, neither happened from a fall or accident, just from being a bit of a klutz.

The doctor ordered scans that showed osteoporosis and small compression fractures of the spine. Tests also indicated that her thyroid was overactive, causing excess excretion of calcium and phosphorous. In addition to prescribing calcium, vitamin D, and various medicines, the doctor ordered physical therapy so Carter could learn exercises to increase bone mass and strengthen muscles to help prevent further fractures.

Things were going well until Carter’s mother broke her hip, leaving the older woman almost helpless. Carter, an only child, saw nothing else to do but give up her job for a while and move in with her mother.

Although she had health insurance when she first came to EUHM, Carter had been left with a large deductible and sizeable co-pays, charges she had been paying in installments. These payments now seemed overwhelming.

Kristina Carter

Care coordinators at EUHM found Carter eligible for waiver of remaining costs, for which Carter was immensely grateful. The total charges waived were less than $2,000, a fraction of amounts for care in other cases—$20,000, $200,000, and more—that often routinely go unpaid. But in today’s economy, more and more patients like Carter are asking for help on small bills as well as large ones.


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