In the News: Lee Memorial creates website to help patients understand hospital bills
FORT MYERS — The dreaded envelope comes in the mail.
The hospital bill and the abbreviations, the charges and the adjustments, and the bold letters near the bottom that say “pay this amount.”
The Lee Memorial Health System, a four-campus public hospital in Lee County, has unveiled a new patient billing website so patients can better understand their bills and ask for help.
The website is www.MyLeeBill.org, and it includes a sample bill with explanations about each section, along with animations that break down the billing process.
Another section addresses what patients can do if their insurance carrier declines to cover a procedure, including sample letters to appeal coverage denials. There’s also a “get personalized help” section where patients can schedule an appointment with a financial representative at the hospital.
“The Lee Memorial website has always had pages dedicated to patient bills, and we wanted to enhance it and give it its own domain site,” said Anne Rose, vice president of revenue cycle for Lee Memorial. “We did some patient focus groups back in June 2010 and we took a lot of feedback and decided to address our website and the paper statements. The whole (purpose) is to try and take some of the mystery out of it.”
Lee Memorial looked at what some other hospitals offer on websites about patient bills and there is a lot of variation, she said.
“I would say ours has a lot of information on it,” she said.
The revamped patient billing website, and option to pay the bill online, is not intended to reduce the number of employees in the hospital system’s business office, nor is it replacing paper statements in the near future.
“Not yet,” Rose said. “This is phase one.”
The NCH Healthcare System, which operates NCH North Naples and Naples Downtown hospitals, has had a detailed patient billing section on its website for two or three years, NCH spokeswoman Debbie Curry said. A recently added feature is a “tour” of a sample bill.
From a broader industry perspective, Rose said there haven’t been any studies comparing patients being able to understand their bills and a higher compliance with payment.
The Florida Hospital Association hasn’t made any recommendations to hospitals about making patient bills more understandable, FHA spokeswoman Sarah Byrd said.
By LIZ FREEMAN
The original article appeared on naplesnews.com