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Ask-A-Consultant: Patient Financial Hardship


When we see a patient that we don't want to charge due to a financial hardship, do we need the patient to fill out some type of form proving their hardship or can we just document in the chart due to financial hardship we are not charging this patient?
Springfield, MO


There is no required method for documenting financial hardship. However, consistency is suggested. Whatever method you use to determine and document financial need should be used in all cases. Many of our clients compare the patient's income to the poverty guidelines to evaluate the patient's need. These guidelines are published in the Federal Register and reported on the Health and Human Services web site. For example, a family of 4 in the 48 contiguous states making less than $18,850 are below poverty levels. Documentation can be as simple as a written statement from the patient indicating their need for the discount to having them complete a financial statement reporting their sources and levels of income. Again, whatever method you choose, use it consistently.

We recommend that instead of not charging the patient, you post the charge then write off the balance using an adjustment code specifically for financial hardship. In this way, you will know the volume of discounted services you actually provide.

Russell B. Still
Executive Vice President

MMA does not provide legal, accounting, or tax advice.  If you need assistance in these areas, we recommend that you consult a qualified professional.  In addition, please note that a client relationship with MMA is not established by the submission of a question to this forum or by the publishing of MMA's response.

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Medical Management Associates, Inc.
3330 Cumberland Boulevard Suite 200 Atlanta, GA 30339
Voice (770) 951-8427 Facsimile (770) 951-2157