In Farmington, Maine, one hospital has found an answer. In this rural area where nature is tough and the people are proud, new father Chris Evert discovered that a sense of community really counts.
Evert needed help when his wife gave birth to their first son after a very complicated pregnancy.
“Me and my wife were struggling on our bills,” Evert recalls. “My insurance really didn’t cover a lot of things that should have been covered and we found ourselves getting further and further in the hole.”
The baby is fine. But Evert, an unemployed mechanic, owes the local hospital $7,000. To work off his medical bill, he is doing odd jobs for the hospital, such as refinishing chairs.
What is being offered here is a form of medical “workfare,” a chance for people to pay in kind what they can’t pay in cash. At Franklin Memorial Hospital, they call it Contract for Care. It is a creative way to bridge that big gap in America’s health care system that leaves 40 million Americans with no medical insurance.
“This is not charity care,” one hospital official says. “This is an opportunity for them to exchange volunteer service for needed health care services. ”
So far, 22 people have agreed to participate. Each one negotiates how many hours will be worked to pay off a portion of the bill.
Because the barter program is only available to people living just above the poverty line, it is also a way for 온라인카지노 the hospital to avoid chasing accounts that probably will never get paid. But while the program is drawing inquiries from across the country, one health care lobbyist told CBS News that it is simply unfair.
“After working your one or two jobs to make ends meet during the day, then go and work for the hospital. The policy question we have to ask is, do we want hospitals to become the company stores of the next millennium?”
Evert doesn’t see it that way.
“It helped me gain a little bit of my pride, gain back some of my own self-respect, I guess,” he says.
Although refinishing eight chairs won’t come close to covering a $7,000 hospital bill, and Franklin Memorial isn’t going to eliminate all of its bad debts, the facility has found a way to give those who can’t pay up in cash a chance to pay back their debts.
Reported By Jeffrey Kofman