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Hospital expands eligibility for financial aid

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By Vince Luecke

TELL CITY - Perry County Memorial Hospital is widening the eligibility guidelines for charity care, providing additional financial assistance to patients with no or limited means of paying for their medical bills.

At its Feb. 27 meeting, the hospital's board of trustees approved a new charity-care policy that increases the amount of help the hospital can offer to patients with household incomes of up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level.

Under the new guidelines, patients with household incomes under the federal poverty level will be eligible to have all of their hospital charges covered. The poverty-level income is reset each year and is based on family size. This year, a family of four earning no more than $21,200 is considered to be living in poverty.

The financial-assistance policy for 2007 offered three tiers of discounts, 15, 25 and 100 percent of hospital bills, but the new guidelines allow for larger discounts at various levels of income.

The hospital will offer discounts of 50 to 95 percent for patients with household incomes above the poverty level, up to 200 percent. As an example, a family of four making 150 percent of the poverty rate, or $31,800, would be eligible for a discount of up to 75 percent.

"This keeps with our mission of serving everyone in our community," hospital President and Chief Executive Officer Joe Stuber told trustees at their monthly meeting, a gathering attended by County Commissioners Don Sherry, Jody Fortwendel and Gary Dauby, and County Council President Pete Franzman. County leaders are invited to a hospital-board meeting early each year to hear a recap of the previous year's financial results.

For more information on financial assistance offered by the hospital, call 547-7011.

2007 Finances

Perry County Memorial Hospital posted a $2.3 million profit in 2007 on total patient revenue of $52.1 million. The hospital provided just over $777,000 in charity care and another $3 million in services it was unable to collect from patients. The new financial-aid policy should decrease the amount of uncompensated care and treat those dollars as charity care.

A major employer in the county, the hospital's total 2007 payroll stood at $10.6 million. During the year, the hospital contributed $486,924 toward employee pensions and made capital purchases of $1.2 million.

Year in Review

Stuber led trustees and county officials through a review of accomplishments of 2007. Most notable was the installation of a new digital mammography unit and a radiographic and tomography room and the addition of satellite television programming into patient rooms.

New intravenous pumps were replaced in the hospital and the hospital kitchen now has a new walk-in freezer. The hospital foundation reached a milestone, with its assets passing the $1 million mark.