People working in the healthcare industry are finding the uninsured population is continuing to grow.
"At St. Vincent Clay Hospital, we're going to treat all comers for their medical needs. But it puts an added financial load on us when we're not reimbursed," Rich Johansen, CEO, said last week.
About 25 percent of the hospital's billings are self-pay, meaning the patient is not insured. He said typically the hospital absorbs those costs. In an effort to work on patient collections, the hospital offers a formalized assistance program on a graduated scale based on the patient's level of income.
"It's not necessarily those at the poverty level that are uninsured. I know of some nurses who don't take benefits in exchange for a higher pay scale. So, it affects all walks of life," Johansen said.
He said the uninsured and those at the poverty level gobble up a lot of the state's budget and the healthcare industry is concerned about where cuts will be made.
Johansen has plans to bring together state legislators with people from St. Vincent Hospitals to discuss the problem and what can be done.
"It's such a complex issue in their minds that they don't have an answer. The impact is so great. And it's the same with education and social services funding. They're trying to grasp for information to make their decisions about how the state should proceed," he said.