Vail Valley Medical Center expanding financial assistance eligibility | VailDaily.com

Vail Valley Medical Center expanding financial assistance eligibility

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Among other features, the Vail Valley Medical Center's new financial assistance program provides a 75 percent discount on urgent-care services for patients who are uninsured and do not have the financial resources to pay the full price.

VAIL — Vail Valley Medical Center is expanding its financial assistance guidelines, allowing more local patients who have not qualified in the past to receive up to 100 percent support in paying their medical bills.

"Our medical center and staff have always been committed to helping uninsured locals access the health care they need," said Doris Kirchner, president and CEO of the Vail Valley Medical Center. "Our new financial assistance policy will reduce the cost of care for a larger group of qualified Eagle County and Summit County residents who use our services."

The new guidelines were adopted this fall, offering financial assistance to local uninsured, underinsured, underprivileged or underemployed patients. Individuals with extenuating circumstances, including recent unemployment, extraordinarily high medical bills and uninsured catastrophic health care costs, will also be considered.

According to Ted Sirotta, the hospital's chief financial officer, the expanded program aims to help people in the community with incomes up to 350 percent of the federal poverty level and who meet certain asset-level requirements.

"Previously, our financial assistance provided aid for locals up to 250 percent of the federal poverty level," Sirotta said. "Our board directed an increase to 350 percent, which means a household of four with an annual income of $85,000, for instance, can qualify for help."

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Sirotta said the hospital would also take into consideration other individual and family circumstances that may prevent a patient from meeting the guidelines.

"We want people to qualify for this program," he said. "Everyone in our community who needs health care has access at our Vail Valley Medical Center facilities from Vail to Gypsum, regardless of their ability to pay."

The new financial assistance program also provides a 75 percent discount on urgent-care services for patients who are uninsured and do not have the financial resources to pay the full price.

In addition, the medical center is implementing a new payment plan program to make it easier for patients to pay their health care bills. Patients will have the option to make payments throughout a five-year period, interest free, depending on the balance they owe. This new program is targeted to roll out early this year.

Vail Valley Medical Center patients and caregivers should contact one of the hospital's financial counselors to discuss their options for financial assistance and payment plans. The financial counselors can provide support to those applying for assistance, including walking them through any documentation required. They can also assist patients in identifying other assistance programs that may be available to them.

For more information on the Vail Valley Medical Center's financial assistance program, visit http://www.vvmc.com/finan cialassistance or call 970-477-3116.