How Hospital Financial Systems are Responding to COVID-19

A lot has changed in a week. Most of the country is on lock-down with people self-quarantining themselves. Some hospitals and medical systems are overwhelmed with people waiting to be tested for the virus. Here are a few examples of how hospital financial systems are responding to this temporary “new normal.”


Northwell Health is Delaying Payments

“N.Y.-based Northwell Health is delaying bill payments for patients treated at its facilities who have been financially affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The health system is delaying payments for those patients and ensuring zero percent interest for a minimum of 60 days. Patients who have lost a job, wages or who are experiencing other financial distress are eligible. The health system said it is suspending payments to ‘help alleviate the economic pressure and stress so many families are experiencing as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.'”

“‘The important thing to remember is that nobody should delay needed medical services because of their ability to pay. If you’re experiencing any kind of financial hardship, whether it’s related to COVID-19 or other factors, the important thing is to contact us. We will always work with you,’ said Northwell Executive Vice President and Chief Business Strategy Officer Richard Miller. Mr. Miller said the health system will work with affected patients to set up payment plans if needed when they receive the bill at a later date.”

CommonSpirit Delays Billing

CommonSpirit Health, a Chicago-based system with 142 hospitals in 21 states, will suspend patient billing related to the testing and treatment of COVID-19. ‘The last thing our patients should worry about if they experience symptoms characteristic of this coronavirus is the cost of seeking care,’ said Lloyd Dean, CEO of CommonSpirit Health. With its March 17 announcement, CommonSpirit Health joins a growing list of health systems halting bills for patients being tested and treated for COVID-19. Last week, Advocate Aurora Health, a 28-hospital system with headquarters in Milwaukee and Downers Grove, Ill., and Providence, a 51-hospital system in Renton, Wash., announced they would hold off on sending patients bills for the testing and treatment of COVID-19.”

“Halting medical bills for patients seeking care related to COVID-19 is not an industrywide standard, Axios reported. However, some U.S. patients have raised concerns about the high cost of care related to COVID-19, including a Miami resident who had $1,400 in out-of-pocket costs related to coronavirus-related treatment.”

“In another instance, a Brooklyn teacher was charged $10,382 after she visited a local emergency department for symptoms related to the new coronavirus. While her insurance is footing most of the bill, her case and others raise questions about how uninsured Americans will be able to afford tests and treatment if they are diagnosed with COVID-19.”

Healthcare Billing Commercial Appeals

Dayton General Hospital is Improvising

“Responding to the coronavirus pandemic presents significant challenges for rural hospitals, many of which operate on razor-thin margins and are vulnerable to closure. Dayton (Wash.) General Hospital is a lifeline for the local community, with the nearest hospital 35 miles away. Like many other rural hospitals, Dayton General has made cuts in recent years. It has eliminated obstetrics, endoscopy and other surgeries, and its nursing home and emergency room are losing money, according to The Washington Post.”

“Dayton General’s leaders are now tasked with pulling together resources and implementing a plan to respond to the outbreak of COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus. The hospital closed its nursing home to visitors and hung signs outside the ER asking people with flu-like symptoms to call before entering the building. The hospital doesn’t have any ventilators, is low on masks and protective gear, and most staff are already holding more than one position to keep the hospital functioning. ‘I know we’re stretched thin as it is,” Dayton General CEO Shane McGuire told The Washington Post. “We’ll improvise and make it work however we can.'”

“Dayton General normally keeps enough supplies and cash on hand to operate for roughly 14 days. Due to shortages of certain supplies across the nation, Dayton General is rationing supplies, such as gloves and surgical masks. Unable to get any needed supplies from vendors, the hospital leaders have called the governor to request 3,500 masks.”

Using Federal ERISA to Collect Commercial Health Insurance Claims

Once the quarantines are over and it’s clear that the spread of COVID-19 has ground to a halt, hospitals can once again work on clearing up their aged claims by contacting us and having claims Federal ERISA claims filed on their behalf. In the meantime, however, the goal is to do the best that they can to stop of the spread of this illness.