HAZARD, Ky. (WSAZ) -- Starting in 2014, Appalachian Regional Healthcare will no longer offer non-emergency care for uninsured patients.
The health system released the following statement:
ARH ACA Statement:
In October, Appalachian Regional Healthcare (ARH) notified the uninsured patients that had been treated at an ARH facility in the past 3 months of changes that will be brought on by the Affordable Care Act.
The letter informed patients that consistent with the Affordable Care Act, everyone is expected to have some form of health insurance effective January 1, 2014. As such, ARH will no longer see patients for non-emergent services who have not complied with this expectation beginning January 1, 2014. To ensure that coverage is effective by January 1, 2014, it is recommended that enrollment take place by November 30, 2013.
ARH is encouraging those in need of assistance with this process to stop by their local ARH hospital and visit with one of our Certified Application Counselors. Our ARH hospital staff members have been trained and certified to assist the public in navigating the Kentucky Health Benefit Exchange (kynect.com) and enrolling them in an appropriate health plan.
The ARH system has always been committed to caring for those in our service areas and has treated those with or without insurance. In the last year alone, $142.8 million in uncompensated care was provided at ARH facilities in our 10-hospital service area - this total represents the provision of charity care to those without insurance as well as bad debt the system incurred on care that was provided, but payment was unable to be collected.
The uninsured population has always been treated at our ARH facilities for all conditions - general and emergent. In fact, ARH was recognized in 2008 with the Hospital Service Award, which is given each year to an institution that makes a difference in the lives of Kentuckians through their commitment to improving the health and well being of the uninsured.
However, many of the programs in place to help cover a portion of the cost of caring for the uninsured will no longer be available as part of the Affordable Care Act. ARH has recommended its uninsured patients take the time to get more information about their possibility of qualifying for Medicaid as a means of health coverage.
While the Affordable Care Act will bring about changes to the existing process involving the treatment of uninsured patients at ARH hospitals beginning in January 2014, if a patient has an emergency condition, they will receive emergency care (regardless of insurance or inability to pay). In addition, ARH will continue to maintain a charity care policy for qualified applicants who are unable to pay for their care, but only as permitted under current law.
Patients who qualify for assistance under ARH's charity care policy, would receive medically necessary services as specified in that policy at free or discounted rates.
Some ARH employees are helping people sign up for Kynect or Medicaid in order for them to still receive care.
Christine Brashear is one of those employees helping low income residents who may qualify for coverage. "It's not just people that are pregnant, blind, or disabled. It's people that have met the guidelines for this Medicaid expansion," Brashear said.