Patient education of eligibility for assistance. Describe how the organization informs and educates patients and persons who may be billed for patient care about their eligibility for assistance under federal, state, or local government programs or under the organization's charity care policy.

DISCUSSION: This question is a complement to the questions at the beginning of the Schedule H regarding financial assistance policies. It probes how patients and the community are made aware that the hospital offers financial assistance, as well as what other sources of assistance are available. Examples of communication efforts the IRS is interested in include: posting information in areas of the hospital where eligible patients are likely to be present, providing information during the intake or discharge process, including information in patient bills, discussion with patients regarding assistance, providing contact information to seek assistance.

Financial assistance information is provided in the registration areas by staff, brochures in the waiting areas, signs, admission booklets, and in financial counseling appointments. The charity program is advertised in the local newspapers, on every statement and letter, on the outside of the envelopes in which bills are sent to patients, on ads on local buses, at health fairs, included as inserts with monthly statements and radio ads. The charity application and information is on the hospital's website.

The hospital's financial assistance policy is communicated in both English and Spanish in a variety of ways. Communications include: bilingual signage throughout the hospital, including the emergency department and outpatient registration areas; distribution of brochures describing the policy and how to apply for assistance; posting of the policy and application on the website, and a statement added to all publications indicating the availability of charity care. Interpretation services are available for patients needing information in languages other than English and Spanish.

Patients are given a Financial Assistance handout at registration/admission with information to contact financial counselors if they may have difficulty paying their hospital bill. All self-pay patients will be visited by a hospital financial counselor to discuss possible financial assistance. Patients scheduling outpatient procedures are informed of the option to contact financial counselors to discuss financial assistance.

To access the instructions for Schedule H click here.

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