Hospitals are facing pressure from a number of directions. Medicare is holding them responsible for quality and patient satisfaction, payers are establishing tiered networks, consumers are demanding price transparency, and now a bill is pending in Illinois that would require tax-exempt hospitals to spend a minimum of 8 percent of operating costs on uncompensated care. That’s a big jump over the 1 percent of total charges that the state believes they are spending now, according to Modern Healthcare.
Another bill, the Hospital Fair Billing and Collection Practices Act would require easy to understand language on bills, establish toll-free numbers for questions, let patients pay in installments, and provide discounts to low income patients.
The Illinois Hospital Association says its members already provide substantial free care and adhere to guidelines that provide discounts to those with low incomes.
The hospital industry is in the process of extensive, painful change. Luckily for the hospitals, demand for their services should continue to be robust. The hospitals that make the transition to the new era effectively will be in terrific shape.January 23, 2006