Eau Claire (WQOW)– An increase in unpaid medical bills is hitting Wisconsin hospitals hard. More than $1 billion worth of patient expenses, are not paid.
The $1.1 billion makes up both charity care and bad debt.
Charity care is when hospitals help patients who can’t afford their medical expenses. It’s written off by the hospital, while bad debt is when patients can afford their expenses but choose not to pay.
Among the 150 hospitals in Wisconsin with uncompensated care, Mayo Clinic Health System and HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital in Eau Claire made the list.
Patient Financial Services Director at HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital Tina Bloom said their charity care was $8.9 million, while their bad debt actually isn’t very high.
“Our bad debt was $1.1 million, Bloom said. “Bad debt is really low for us and that contributes to what we do here locally within our facility but also in our community. We have counselors on staff that go through and help patients sign up for medicaid and medicare and other payer sources to help them with their medical bills and pocket expenses.”
Bloom said the $1.1 million of bad debt isn’t a financial burden to the community because the person who owes the money will be taken to collections, and each year they budget for expenses like this.
According to the report, Mayo Clinic Health System’s charity care was $8.4 million while their bad debt was under $5 million.