Last week, a member of System Management was approached by an acquaintance, who with tears in her eyes, said that she wanted to thank those people who provide the Charity Care Fund at WMHS. She said that her daughter was seriously ill and in the hospital. She has no health insurance and no money to pay for her care. The family was told that it was OK; Charity Care will take care of it. So, in turn, the mother wanted to send a letter to the people who fund Charity Care. The WMHS employee said that the health system funds Charity Care for those patients who can't pay.
Some of that care is covered in the hospital rates that have been established through Maryland’s unique reimbursement system, but that continues to fall short year after year. There are a host of steps that we walk people through to obtain financial assistance. But when it's all said and done, the health system takes a loss for the care that was provided to those who couldn't afford to pay. And that amount has grown dramatically over the last several years. Last year, the total amount for our Community Benefit was just under $40 million, with almost $16 million being provided in the form of charity or uncompensated care.
We are fortunate to have some funds that will cover minimal needs for our indigent patients, but nowhere near the magnitude to cover the cost of the care for a serious illness. The woman was shocked that WMHS covers those costs and said "I am sure that most people have no idea that the health system covers those costs." I guess this is another opportunity for WMHS to do some "shameless" self-promotion.