Lowering Hospital Costs Through Hospital Financial Assistance Programs: Myths & Truths

In a healthcare landscape riddled with high costs and complexity, Hospital Financial Assistance (HFA) Programs stand as beacons of hope for many—but remain critically underutilized. While 58% of Americans—including those with commercial insurance—are likely eligible for hospital financial assistance at most hospitals and health systems across the country, our 2024 survey uncovers a widespread gap in awareness and numerous misconceptions surrounding these programs. Keep reading as we dispel the top four myths about hospital financial assistance and shed light on the real impact these programs can have for those they aim to help.

The Eligibility Gap: Busting the Myths

Myth: “I make too much money”

Truth: A common refrain among survey respondents is the belief that their income is too high to qualify for financial assistance. Many people believe these programs are only for the homeless, uninsured, and unemployed, and that couldn’t be further from the truth. With eligibility thresholds extending up to 400% of the Federal Poverty Level—and even higher in many urban hospitals—households earning up to $180,000 annually could be eligible for significant discounts on medical care. Despite this, a staggering 84% of households earning less than $100,000 annually, who stand to benefit from these programs, remain unaware and unengaged. This discrepancy underscores a critical need for more robust communication efforts to inform and educate potential beneficiaries about their eligibility.

Myth: “I have health insurance, so I won’t qualify”

Truth: Having insurance does not mean one is adequately covered or ineligible for financial assistance. Many fall into the category of ‘underinsured’, where the coverage is insufficient to meet all medical

expenses, especially in cases of high deductibles or co-pays. It’s important to understand that most hospital financial assistance programs include underinsured patients and are designed to bridge this gap, offering vital support even to those with insurance coverage.

Myth: “The application is complex”

Truth: Unfortunately, this one is often true. The complexity and variability of financial assistance application processes form a significant barrier to entry. From convoluted online instructions to outdated paper forms, the lack of a streamlined, user-friendly application experience discourages many from pursuing financial assistance. That’s why Emry offers employers a way to help their people easily maintain affordable access to care. Our technology allows employees to check eligibility in seconds, and if eligible, we can guide them through their hospital’s application process whenever they need assistance.

Myth: “I don’t need charity”

Truth: The term “charity care” evokes a sense of shame and reluctance among many who would otherwise qualify for assistance. This stigma, rooted in misconceptions about the nature of these programs, prevents individuals from seeking the help they are legally entitled to receive. Shifting from the stigmatizing language of “charity care” to “hospital financial assistance” can help alleviate the shame associated with applying for and receiving medical cost support.

The underutilization of hospital financial assistance reflects a broader challenge within our healthcare system: the need for greater transparency, accessibility and empathy. By demystifying hospital financial assistance programs and actively working to remove the barriers to application, including helping more employees gain access to these programs—we can ensure that more individuals access the care they need without the added burden of financial strain. It’s a collective effort that requires the engagement of all stakeholders in the healthcare ecosystem to ensure that financial assistance fulfills its promise of making healthcare accessible for all.

Learn how to leverage care navigation and financial assistance for crafting affordable benefits and eliminating medical debt burdens.


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