Many healthcare providers are seeing financial benefits from Obamacare insurance expansion across the country, while those that haven't are redoubling their efforts to sign up the most challenging of their uninsured patients, said panelists at the Healthcare Financial Management Association's 2014 Annual National Institute.
The Level 1 trauma center at Cooper University Hospital in Camden, N.J., a city with a 40% poverty rate, often receives the victims of violent crime. “The biggest challenge was to convince people we were doing something good for them” by encouraging them to get insurance, said John Bucci, Cooper's director of patient accounts. “There are a lot of people who walk in and they're not ready to cooperate.”
Cooper set up kiosks throughout the hospital and offered a toll-free number for individuals to get more information about signing up for a private health plan. But many people balked when they realized they would have to pay premiums. “We didn't really have a huge reaction to it,” Bucci said. Some patients who did sign up would pay a month or two of premiums and then stop.
The biggest boost for the hospital is New Jersey's presumptive eligibility for its expanded Medicaid program, which allows patients to automatically qualify based on income. Already the number of self-pay patients has dropped 40% and charity care has decreased by a third.