How to Provide a Plain Language Summary of Your Financial Assistance Policy
Continuing in our 10-Step Checklist To Maintain Your Tax-exempt Status, we arrive at point number seven: “Provide a Plain Language Summary of Your Financial Assistance Policy.”
While it is not technically necessary to provide this plain language summary to patient's you feel would be in need of financial assistance, you should consider doing this anyway, in an effort to demonstrate your compliance with the new 501(r) regulations.
If patients are to understand that they may be eligible for financial assistance, this will need to be explained to them in a straightforward way. This is especially important for patients who may not have received advanced education, or patients for whom English is a second language.
Charitable hospitals owe it to their patients to provide charity care. If your patients are unable to understand the fact that charity care is available to them, you could still be risking your tax-exempt status. Mitigate your risks by providing information that is easy to understand and read. Make sure that your patients understand their options when it comes to financial assistance. This practice can also help minimize collections activity on your part.
This plain language summary may be offered as part of either the intake or discharge process. It should be something automatically given to patients who may be in need of charity care. To cover your bases, you should also include this plain language summary in one post-discharge mailing - making sure you also include written notice of your financial assistance policy in every bill which may be issued during the 120 day post-discharge period.
Don't forget to also include contact information which are patients can easily utilize. This may include but is not limited to: a phone number which will connect patients with a representative capable of providing information, or a direct link to a website which offers copies of the financial assistance policy. Make sure documents can easily be downloaded. Often times, websites are not user-friendly and if patients have to go on a scavenger hunt to find what they need, it can often become frustrating causing the patient to give up and just not pay the bill.
Maintaining your tax-exempt status is an extremely important aspect of charitable care. These tax breaks are what make it possible for you to extend financial assistance to patients in need. VARO Healthcare offers an opportunity to schedule a call and go over any questions you may have about the pains surrounding maintaining your tax-exempt status and how we might be able to alleviate some of those pains. If you’re not quite ready to schedule that call, download our complete 10-step checklist on this topic and how we can help.
An example of the Plain Language Summary can be found here.