BY FAITH ALICEA
Sitting scrolling through Facebook two weeks ago, a post appears about a fellow equestrian that has been diagnosed with stage three lung cancer. My heart sinks. As I kept reading, I discovered that this equestrian had to raise a massive amount of money for her treatment in a few days and my sadness turns to outrage. Outraged at our healthcare system, and at the hospital where she sought treatment.
Since working in the equestrian industry often doesn’t come with a standard set of benefits you might find at a corporate job, healthcare can quickly become a financial crisis. But there are options.
Let me break it down. If a hospital in the United States is a non-profit, they have Charity Care. In fact, even some for-profit hospitals have it. Nonprofit hospitals are exempt from income, property, and sales taxes. In return, the hospital must provide charity care.
The purpose of Charity Care is to cover “medically necessary” treatment, including and not limited to hospital stays and emergency room visits. Federal and state laws require hospitals to provide certain types of medical care for free or at a reduced cost if a person cannot afford to pay for the medical treatment. If you don’t have insurance, you should apply. If you have insurance, but your insurance may only cover part of the hospital bill or treatment, apply. If you have insurance and you have a high deductible, apply.
Hospital Financial Help Resources
In addition, if either you or your spouse has served our country you may qualify for healthcare benefits through the VA. This is a process, but usually each county has a rep that can help. Again, if you have any issues call your local VA and ask for the social work department.
So how do you get Charity Care? Ask! If the person at the hospital you are speaking with says they do not have it, there’s a good chance they just don’t know. Keep pursuing the issue. Ask to speak to someone in the Social Worker Department to Financial Assistance.
They will typically look at an individual’s source of income, assets and what type of healthcare they may have. To ease the process, be prepared with the paperwork you will need to get approved. Remember each state is different and may have different requirements. At many hospitals you can apply for Charity Care before a procedure or even after you get a bill. So make sure you have the following:
- Pay stubs
- Income tax returns from the past year
- W-2 Statements from your employer
The process may not be easy. Many hospitals have been investigated for not informing patients that charity care was available, but there are services in place to protect the uninsured. So I say to you, the equestrian community, if you need to have surgery or get medical care, please know that you can.
We want you to be well, and we need each other in this business. There are resources available so you aren’t stuck with bills climbing thousands and thousands of dollars. You should be able to get care, get well and not stress out about how to pay for it.
Faith McKay-Alicea former Director of Healthcare Service at The MDA. Now a mom, small business owner of Title Boxing Club in Trexlertown, PA, an Amateur and USEF R Steward, Schooling Supervisor And Measurement Field Examiner. Never stop learning!
- Jennifer Preston (1996-04-14). “As Revenues Drop, Hospitals Talk of Forsaking Charity Care”. New York Times.
- Kathleen Day, “Hospital Charity Care Is Probed: Investigators Find Nonprofits Overcharge or Deny Services,” The Washington Post, September 13, 2006
- Kyung M. Song, “Standards set for charity care,” Archived May 12, 2008, at the Wayback Machine The Seattle Times, January 11, 2007
- https://www.washingtonlawhelp.org/resource/charity-care-medical-coverage-for-hospital-ba#a Northwest Justice Project Nov 7, 2019