Expanded Financial Aid Now Available for Northwell Health Patients

Northwell Health's Canarsie Multi Service Center.Photo: Supplied/Google Maps

New York Attorney General Letitia James announced an agreement with Northwell Health on Tuesday to expand access to financial assistance at Northwell hosptials, facilities and clinics across the state.

As a result of this agreement, uninsured and under-insured New Yorkers receiving necessary medical care and earning under five times the federal poverty level will be eligible for free or discounted care, according to a press release.

In addition, Northwell will dedicate more staff to help patients apply for financial assistance and significantly reducing medical debt collection.

This agreement comes after the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) reviewed Northwell’s financial assistance program and the health group agreed to improve and expand its program.

“No one should face the choice between putting food on the table or receiving medical care,” said James. “Too many New Yorkers delay necessary health care appointments because costs are too high, or end up saddled with debt after receiving emergency care.”

Medical debt is a significant financial burden that disproportionately impacts low-income patients, people who are uninsured or under-insured, communities of color, immigrants and people with disabilities. Even New Yorkers with health insurance often forego or delay necessary health care because of high deductibles or insufficient coverage, according to the news release.

As a result of today’s agreement, uninsured or under-insured patients earning twice the federal poverty level or less will receive free medical care. Patients earning between three and five times the federal poverty level will receive discounted medical services based on Medicaid or Medicare rates.

The OAG and Northwell worked together to simplify Northwell’s public notices on financial assistance to make them more accessible and understandable for patients.

To limit unnecessary medical debt collection, Northwell will dedicate a Medical Debt Ombudsperson to review accounts before litigation is commenced. The ombudsperson will ensure that the patient has been given ample notice of Northwell’s financial assistance policies and the opportunity to apply for such assistance. The ombudsperson will also ensure there is either a reasonable basis to believe the patient owes the debt, or the patient is not known to be an enlisted service person or a veteran, unemployed, disabled, or deemed incapacitated, among other factors.

Northwell will keep these policies in place for five years and will provide annual reports to OAG and the Northwell Board of Trustees on its financial assistance program, according to the release.

The agreement applies to all 21 Northwell hospitals as well as 56 Northwell clinics in New York City and on Long Island. In Brooklyn, there are multiple Northwell physician groups, clinics and facilities all over the borough.

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