One proposed solution at a Texas hospital is for a hospital to help those who fall between the cracks pay for coverage on the exchange.
Hospitals lose tens of millions of dollars annually treating patients who don't have health insurance. (In 2014, Regional Medical Center expects to "spend approximately $53 million on charity care — care provided to residents without insurance or any ability to pay," according to a June 17 article in The Star.)
Schnurman spoke with Sharon Phillips, executive vice president of Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, about the effort to encourage the uninsured to find coverage via online marketplaces:
Parkland was eager to help folks sign up, given that about 50,000 uninsured patients may qualify.
The catch is that many other customers will be left out in the cold: About 180,000 earn too little money to get public help, Sharon said.
If that sounds counterintuitive — an income that’s too small for aid — how about Parkland buying health insurance for some of its sickest patients?
Phillips floated that idea last week because buying coverage through the exchange could be cheaper than Parkland’s eating the hospital bill itself. Whether the move would pass muster with regulators and political leaders is unclear, but Phillips said it’s worth exploring.
“We’re trying to determine every way to maximize the law,” she said.