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How one hospital helped the uninsured by partnering with Bernard Health

pie chart of healthcare enrollment

25-bed Critical Access Hospital helps 480 patients find health insurance in first year of partnership

Macon County General Hospital (MCGH) is a 25-bed critical access hospital in Lafayette, TN. In December, 2014 they partnered with Bernard Health to place a licensed, noncommissioned Bernard Health advisor in their emergency department five days a week. 

After just 12 months, they saw…

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Finding A Solution for a Rural Critical Access Hospital

As the CFO of a 25-bed critical access hospital in rural Tennessee, Thomas Kidd was focused on fulfilling the hospital’s community mission and meeting financial goals. In 2013, $1.5M of MCGH’s $23.5M total charges had been written off to bad-debt. Most of those write-offs were attributable to the 2,451 uninsured patients treated that year.

With healthcare reform, Kidd saw an opportunity to help uninsured community members get new coverage and simultaneously help the hospital increase revenue - it was one of those special opportunities where mission directly aligned with financial goals. With that in mind, one staff member completed training to become a Certified Application Counselor (CAC), but at the end of the first Open Enrollment period in 2013-2014, MCGH hadn’t enrolled as many patients as they’d hoped. And some of the patients that did enroll had inadvertently chosen plans that didn’t include MCGH in their network. So Kidd turned to Bernard Health for help.

With Bernard, Kidd felt like the community would benefit from having access to a licensed, health insurance expert who could do outreach and meet face-to-face with patients at the hospital. Bernard provided detailed weekly reporting, and the investment in Bernard counted toward MCGH’s 501(c)3 Community Benefit Obligation. After a successful 6-month pilot, MCHG renewed their agreement with Bernard Health for another 12 months.

Immediate Financial Impact of the Project

In the first year of having one Bernard advisor onsite, Monday through Friday, we enrolled 480 uninsured in new coverage. Enrollments included:

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As a result, MCGH received a 10.3% increase in revenue. 

Longer-Term Financial Impact of the Pilot Project

The 10.3% increase in revenue is an obvious immediate benefit, but it doesn’t account for future revenue.  In just 12 months, Macon County reduced their liability by having 480 fewer uninsured and underinsured community members, some of whom will inevitably return to the hospital for treatment.

“Working with Bernard Health has been an exceptional vendor experience. They hired and trained someone from our own community, and that advisor is now a valuable resource for the hospital and the community we serve. We couldn’t have achieved these results without them.” Thomas Kidd, CFO Macon County General Hospital

Community Impact

Two anecdotes help illustrate the impact Bernard Health is having on the community.

  1. When patients are discharged from the hospital, they complete a satisfaction survey that includes the question: “Who is your favorite employee you've met / worked with at MCGH?". In the first few months onsite, at least one of the patients named the Bernard Health advisor as their favorite employee.
  2. In addition to seeing patients who come to the hospital, Bernard developed a relationship with a local tax preparer who now refers all of her clients to the hospital when they have questions about health insurance

If you enjoyed this post, you may also like Top 5 Ways Hospitals are Helping Patients Find Health Insurance

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