Time to demand charity program disclosures

Here’s a quick thought for the day:  What if the federal government made non-profit hospitals meet specific standards for publicizing their charity/free care programs?

As we all now, hospitals have to put their EMTALA notice front and center in the emergency department entry area.  I don’t know if the feds set a specific size for the notice, but in my experience as a patient, it’s usually a pretty big sign.

When it comes to charity care, on the other hand, there’s few if any standards for informing the public of their options. And far too often, hospitals don’t get the job done.

While some hospitals offer charity care notices on every bill they send out, post signs alerting patients to the option, tag every electronic transaction with a charity-care reminder — hell, they write it in the sky — others make rather perfunctory efforts.  Either they’re hiding something, or more likely, they just aren’t sure how to get the point across.

So, let’s make things simple. Let’s set a federal standard for displaying information on charity programs, something along the lines of EMTALA public display rules.
That way, financial managers won’t be forced to think like marketing communications types, and every hospital will be forced to follow the same rules.

Seems to me that would even the playing field; hospitals wouldn’t be rewarded for dodging their responsibilities, but instead, could compete on how well they performed.

So, why do I think this would be wildly unpopular? Am I right?

About the author

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.