The kind of thing a family would do

charity care

Elaine Dahl, director of patient financial services at Emory University Hospital Midtown, helped determine that the patient qualified for charity assistance, in recognition of the life-shattering hardship that paying the bill would cause.

 

Charity Care

Ending the bounce-back

The kind of thing a family would do

Looking at the individual


Ever since she could remember, Shannon had dreamed of family, a husband, Sunday dinner around the table, and doing things for her children that had not always been done for her.

But the husband never appeared, and in her early 40s she made the difficult, now-or-never decision to have a baby on her own. She did not have any family to help, but she did have a steady job, insurance, and enough savings for maternity leave.

Then, late in her pregnancy, the human resources manager at her employer called her in. Shannon could not hear all the words she spoke (“good worker, but the economy, you know, so sorry”) for the blood pounding in her head.

Miss Dependability, as her friends called her, applied for unemployment and used her savings to pay for continued insurance from her company to get her through delivery, after which she would find another job.

A week after losing her job she went to Emory University Hospital Midtown in premature labor, likely brought on by stress. She was stabilized and sent home. Insurance paid its part, and Shannon paid the rest. Seven weeks later, she returned to Emory Midtown and gave birth to a healthy girl.

This time the bill was more than $11,000—and marked self-pay. Her insurance had expired just before she entered the hospital. When Shannon redid the math, she realized to her dismay that she had miscalculated the amount needed to continue coverage through delivery. Now what? Unemployment barely covered her living expenses, there was no credit left on her Visa card, and Hope, her infant daughter, was her only family.

She called the Patient Financial Services office at Emory Midtown to accept responsibility for the bill and to ask, trying to control her voice, if the hospital could work with her on a very long-term payment plan, starting as soon as she could find another job. It did better. After gathering additional information, the hospital determined that Shannon qualified for charity assistance, in recognition of the life-shattering hardship paying this bill would cause. The bill was adjusted to zero. Barely able to talk for her tears, Shannon said she thought this was exactly the kind of thing a family would do.

   
   
 
 

Unemployment barely covered the patient’s living expenses, and her Visa card had no credit left. She called to see if the hospital could work with her on a very long-term payment plan.


 


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Community Benefits Report Cover 2011