As patients and families navigate the challenges presented by COVID-19, Penn State Health has enhanced its financial counseling services, adding additional financial counselors and customer service representatives to assist patients and consumers with a variety of new and existing programs.
Among the new support measures implemented, financial counselors are now able to assist patients of Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, Penn State Children’s Hospital, Penn State Health St. Joseph, and Penn State Health Medical Group by restructuring or even deferring some previously arranged payment plans. These adjustments will be made on a case-by-case basis as counselors work individually with patients and their families to help them with their specific needs.
“We have started to receive questions about payment plans from individuals who are concerned because their financial situation has changed,” said Dan Angel, vice president of Revenue Cycle at Penn State Health. “We’re here to help during this unprecedented situation. We want patients to be able to focus on their care—especially during this time of ongoing uncertainty—and not their financial situation.”
Penn State Health has increased the number of financial counselors available to meet with patients about their financial concerns, such as charges for completed medical services and questions about expected costs for an upcoming procedure. The health system has also increased the number of customer service representatives staffing its toll-free help line, 800-264-2619.
“We’re committed to price transparency and other practices that ensure all who we serve have the information they need to make the best decision on their health care,” said Angel. “It’s essential that when someone calls our 800 number, we are able to get them through to a representative who can help them as quickly as possible.”
The financial counselors at Penn State Health will continue to help uninsured or underinsured patients gain access to third-party insurance coverage such as Medicaid or Medicare as well as the health insurance marketplace. The counselors will work with patients to see if they are eligible for financial assistance. Based on income, family size and assets, patients may be eligible to have up to 100% of their medically necessary and emergent services charges adjusted as charity care.
For patients who have insurance but may have difficulty paying a medical bill in full due to a high deductible or other circumstances, Penn State Health’s financial services representatives can set up payment plans over an extended period.
Angel said the additional financial counselors and customer service representatives will remain in place for the foreseeable future to help patients and families facing future financial difficulties caused by COVID-19.