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Florida hospitals may help low-income patients with insurance costs

Health Care and Health Insurance
by Steve Bryson
Florida hospitals may help low-income patients with insurance costs
Florida hospitals may help low-income patients with insurance costs

One of the biggest concerns many consumers may have, even after the implementation of many of the various Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, is that the cost of buying their coverage remains quite high, especially if they have lower incomes. However, it now seems as though some health care providers in Florida might be trying to help them deal with those costs.

A number of of hospitals in South Florida are now trying to raise as much as $5 million, which would then be donated to the South Florida Hospital and Healthcare Association, a foundation that pays for low-income consumers' insurance bills for an entire year, according to a report from the Associated Press. The reason for doing this is relatively simple: if hospitals can be assured of receiving payment from insurance companies for even basic treatments, then they might see that as money well spent.

This new program could potentially save hospitals and consumers alike a considerable amount of money every year, but whether it will be ready to go before the start of 2015 remains unclear, the report said. Fortunately for those the program aims to protect, it will likely be fully up and running before the enrollment deadline for the year closes in February.

Could this spread?
This idea is apparently so easy for health care providers to get behind because the benefits likely outweigh what could be significant costs going forward, the report said. Many other health groups are considering - or have already started pursuing - the same thing. However, some experts in the insurance industry call this a questionable conflict of interest.

Clare Krusing, a spokeswoman for the trade group Americans' Health Insurance Plans, told the news agency that this could have a deleterious effect on the quality of care, and simultaneously end up leading to more costs for patients and taxpayers alike, the report said. Meanwhile, these organizations would, at present, be working in something of a potentially legal grey area, as far as the federal government is concerned. Many have sought additional guidance from lawmakers or regulatory authorities, and gotten mixed messages.

Health insurance companies may also want to take the time to consider ways in which they can diversify their offerings to better appeal to consumers with low incomes, and meet both their financial and medical needs going forward.

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