Medical debt arises when free or reduced-cost care is not accessible to offset patients’ unaffordable out-of-pocket health care costs. Due in part to a weakened economy, the decline in employer-based insurance coverage, and the paring down of health insurance benefits, medical debt has crept into the middle class consciousness by impacting the growing number of Americans who are underinsured. In 2007, nearly two-thirds of American adults reported they were struggling with medical bills or avoiding care due to the cost of treatment. In these instances, diagnosis of serious illness or disease occurs at later stages when treatment is less likely to succeed. Even when individuals break through the barriers and get free care, there is evidence they receive poorer quality care. In many states, medical debt and provider collection efforts have been linked to ruined credit ratings; wage garnishment, bank account seizures, and liens on private property, including patients’ homes; bankruptcy; and home foreclosure. Community Catalyst works with national, state and local advocates to build awareness of the institutional and systemic problems that lead to medical debt and to help consumers, health care institutions, and policymakers work together to address these issues in their communities.
- October 09, 2012 FAQ: Does the ACA Help Families with Hospital Bills? Recently, the IRS released draft rules that will further regulate hospital behavior, with some real wins for patients and families. This FAQ answers some common questions about the draft rules.
- October 05, 2012 Comments to the IRS and Treasury on the Notice "Additional Requirements for Charitable Hospitals" Community Catalyst and other organizations weigh in with the IRS and Treasury on requirements for charitable hospitals that help patients address the financial toll hospital bills can take.
- September 23, 2011 Comments on Community Health Needs Assessment Requirements for Tax-Exempt Hospitals Community Catalyst, along with 56 other organizations, submitted comments regarding the community health needs assessment for tax-exempt hospitals to the Internal Revenue Service
- September 10, 2010 Protecting Consumers, Encouraging Community Dialogue: ACA Requirements for Non-profit Hospitals This summary analyzes the ACA requirements private non-profit hospitals must meet and the increased reporting and oversight mechanisms to ensure compliance and transparency.
- May 05, 2010 Best Kept Secrets: Are Non-Profit Hospitals Informing Patients About Charity Care Programs? This report from The Access Project and Community Catalyst show that many non-profit hospitals are not doing enough to meet AHA guidelines to have clear, written policies to help patients determine if they qualify for charity care and to make these policies available to patients and the public.
- April 15, 2009 When Coverage Fails: Causes and Remedies for Inadequate Health Insurance The number of Americans paying more for health insurance policies that cover less has increased 60 percent since 2003. This report outlines the implications of the growing “underinsurance” problem, identifies two primary factors that put people at risk, and urges government leaders to act to ensure families who purchase insurance get the coverage they need.
- May 01, 2004 The Patient Financial Assistance Act and Commentary "Free Care Model Act" This model act and commentary can serve as a baseline for policymakers and stakeholders as they develop legislation to establish standards and oversight procedures for hospital financial assistance programs. It can be used side-by-side with the interactive Hospital Free Care Web Tool
- October 01, 2003 Not There When You Need It: The Search for Free Hospital Care A report on the challenges uninsured and underinsured patients encounter in getting information about hospital financial assistance programs