Bozeman Deaconess
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New program offers assistance to uninsured patients

March 22, 2004

A new program is being offered at Bozeman Deaconess Hospital to help uninsured patients find services and benefits available to them to help them pay their medical bills. The program, Medical Advocacy Services in Healthcare (MASH), employs a patient care advocate based at Bozeman Deaconess Hospital who assists uninsured patients whose medical bills exceed a certain dollar amount. Many uninsured patients do not know there are many benefits and services available to help them, including Medicaid, Social Security and various other programs.

The program benefits both the patient and the hospital. Many self-pay patients commonly need assistance working through the complex applications processes for government, state and county healthcare assistance programs. These patients often become overwhelmed and frustrated, and they surrender their pursuit for program eligibility, leaving the hospital uncompensated for the care and services provided. These accounts typically result in debt write-off. With the MASH program, the patient is able to pay for healthcare costs and the hospital, in return, is compensated.

Most importantly, uninsured patients are more likely, and more comfortable, to seek needed medical care without the fear of incurring huge medical bills. "If you don't have insurance, you don't access the care you need," according to Steve Scharmann, manager of the Business Office. Once enrolled in these programs, an uninsured patient can rest assured in the fact they are free to seek the medical attention they need. And that assurance makes for a healthier and happier community.
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