The Juan F. Luis Memorial Hospital has declared amnesty on overdue payments, offering people who owe the hospital money for old bills a discount for making good the debts.
Announced Monday, the program applies to $26 million of “self-pay” debt – money owed to the hospital by the patients themselves – rather than from insurance companies, Medicare or Medicaid, or other sources. The self-pay debt is more than half of the $50.7 million in the hospital's accounts receivable.
The hospital's board and management have been looking for an infusion of cash to help pay off the more than $30 million JFL owes to its own creditors, and the $44 million needed in overdue equipment and facilities upgrades.
Last week the hospital's chief executive officer, Jeff Nelson, said without the injection of fresh cash, the quality of patient care is likely to suffer, and it might even threaten the future of the hospital.
Recovering some of the old debts would be a good first step, according to Nelson, who last week told a community forum discussing the hospital's financial condition that in May the hospital sent out more than 9,000 bills, far more than it ever has before in a similar period.
While the amnesty program was launched as a way to recoup much-needed funds, the program also benefits patients with discounts of as much as 50 percent on the old debts.
The $26 million has accumulated from 22,000 bills, according to hospital spokeswoman Xaulanda H. Simmonds-Emmanuel. The bills are based on individual visits to the emergency room and hospital admissions, and do not reflect individual patients. Each time a patient is admitted and fails to pay all his or her debt, it is counted as an individual bill.
The average of each bill is $1,181.82, but the patients can earn steep discounts by taking advantage of the amnesty.
Discounts are determined by the age of the account and the date the total balance is paid by. According to the hospital's news release announcing the program, the details of the amnesty program include:
- Accounts older than two years will be eligible for a 50 percent discount if paid by June 29 or a 25 percent discount if paid by July 31.
- Accounts less than two years will be eligible for a 30 percent discount if paid by June 29 or a 15 percent discount if paid by July 31.
Nelson called the amnesty program a “win-win” situation.
“It is an opportunity for the hospital to collect on past due accounts that may be difficult to collect, while offering a significant discount to our patients,” he said. “While JFL continues to struggle financially, we also understand that our community is also struggling and hope this amnesty program provides some relief to both.”
The hospital last offered an amnesty program in 2004, during which it collected $747,206.
Additional information on the amnesty program and what individuals owe can be obtained by calling 772-7491.