Hospitals Offer Charity Care to Families Who Can't Afford Medical Bills

Approximately one out of every four people in Dallas County doesn't have health insurance.

Still, hospitals must provide care to those people who can't afford the debt they incur. Hospitals work with individuals and come up with a plan to tackle medical debt, says Stephen Love, who runs the Dallas Hospital Council, an association of area hospitals.

"I know it is complicated, and it's difficult for consumers," Love said. "That's why we have financial counselors and patient navigators at our hospitals."

Love said all hospitals have financial teams with whom patients can meet and come up with a plan to address the bills someone faces.

If an individual can't pay the hospital bill, they need to show it. Don't sugar-coat it. Be honest about your finances and what you can and can't afford.

"If you look at bad debt and charity care, hospitals write off millions of dollars every year," Love said.

Millions of dollars may sound like a lot, but but it's less money than hospitals have spent on charity care in years past.

In 2015 and 2016, the total uncompensated care fell to a 25-year low, according to the American Hospital Association.

Out of all the hospitals in America dishing out money to help people who can't pay, North Texas' Baylor Scott & White is in the top three.

It helps more people without insurance than most hospital systems in America.

"That costs money, but it's the right thing to do. The business model is we want to do what's right," Love said. "We want to treat everyone fairly. We certainly want to be a good community servant to the people. There's no question about it, but we still got to make a margin."

There are other resources for people besides working directly with the hospital.

Transformance offers free debt management help for people who are struggling to pay bills. They are available at 1-800-249-2227.

GreenPath Financial offers credit counseling and debt counseling. In Plano, call 972-423-0600, and in McKinney, call 972-542-0257.

Incharge Debt Solutions is a charity that helps with medical debt. For assistance, call 1-800-565-8953.

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