Caring for the Indigent Patient Population
An indigent patient population can be described as those who do not have health insurance nor qualify for government assisted programs. In our value-based American healthcare environment, it is the ethical responsibility of healthcare providers to focus attention on this needy population that is otherwise known as “uninsured and/or low-income”. Approximately 10.2% of the U.S population (non-elderly between the ages of 0 to 64 years) is uninsured, and they are in need of appropriate care.
Providers are faced with three main choices when caring for indigent populations, they can:
- Refer to public clinic or other government funded health system
- Contain costs while caring for the indigent patient population
- Offer reduced fee service or waive the charges
To learn about the referral sources available (the first option) please click here.
Caring for Indigent Patients Through Cost Containment
The first step is to confirm that the patient in question is ineligible for insurance by checking with Medicare, Medicaid, and local county services. Patients sometimes assume that they don’t qualify and never explore the options available to them. By submitting the necessary paperwork, you may help them secure health insurance they were not aware they were eligible for. If indeed the patient does not qualify for insurance, here are some ways you can reduce costs:
- Reduce polypharmacy – Streamline their medications by taking off any duplicate doses and unnecessary medications. This includes not only the prescribed medications but also supplements and other over-the-counter medications.
- Cut medications cost - Find generic options when applicable and apply for patient assistance programs. It may be time consuming to try this method with individual medication for low cost alternatives, to offset this, visit https://www.pparx.org/ to find patient assistance programs for multiple medications.
- Find low cost or free clinics for other medical care that you cannot provide. The National Association of Free & Charitable clinics is one of the many available resources to find a clinic near you. Educate your patients how prevention of health issues is much cheaper than visiting emergency room. Encourage them to seek medical care regularly to prevent costly issues.
- Shop around for best lab prices- walkinlab.com offers low cost lab tests in most States of U.S. Discuss with your patients about the need for the most essential labs and financial options.
- Apply for grants to offset some of the costs incurred in care. Superior Health Foundation has awarded $1.2 million in 2018 to care for uninsured. They are currently accepting applications. A google search will provide a few other organizations that are providing grants in your area.
For more locally available resources that could reduce the costs in caring for the indigent population, check with your county office.
For more information on this topic or with questions on improving quality of care at your facility, please contact us completing the form below.