AHA Updates Hospitals on New Responsibilities

As the administration of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act or PPACA continues to be implemented across the country, non-profit hospitals are looking at what they must do to comply with aspects of this law. The American Hospital Association is giving hospitals guidelines that will illustrate their responsibilities to patients. Many of these revolve around transparency for costs and other consumer protections that assist you to know more about the financial outcomes of your care.

Financial Counseling and Patient Education

One of AHA's guidelines is that hospitals should inform patients about how the facility bills for different kinds of care. This is typically called financial counseling or patient education, and it's a major part in preparing the average American family for any kind of medical treatment that they seek. The non-profit provider, which is often the most dominant and largest provider in a local community, can be considered a kind of public service, regardless of the fact that many non-profits adopt many 'for-profit' types of administrative strategies and policies. The bottom line is that non-profits (and actually providers) have a responsibility to be up front with patients from what they will pay for a contracted doctor, nurse or other medical service provider, to extras like anesthesia, medical supplies or medical equipment.

Financial Assistance Policies

Another aspect of the Affordable Care Act that is in place to protect you is a mandate for non-profit hospitals to provide financial assistance to patients and have policies posted in a visible manner. This involves looking at the income and assets of a given patient and how that person can benefit from any available charitable funding or other source of assistance. Typically, financial assistance is supposed to be provided by the hospital within its overall billing structure, as a way to expect a patient's less likely ability to pay.

Clearer Medical Collections

Another aspect of these changes relates to what happens when a bill does get sent to collections. Some of the other guidelines provided to non-profit hospitals have to do with establishing a consistent policy for late payments and non-payment of medical bills. This will ensure that patients know that they are being treated fairly in terms of medical collections, at least, in relation to the common policy.

These straightforward consumer protections are good news for the average American family that struggles with high hospital bills whenever someone becomes ill or needs significant care. Stay informed about how federal, state, and local government groups are slowly working toward comprehensive health care reform, resulting in greater protection for you.