Hospital Accountability Project Survey Findings 2012-2013

Introduction

The Hospital Accountability Project (HAP) is a joint effort of the Citizens Action Coalition Education Fund and Indiana Legal Services. HAP was originally launched in 2008 with an 18 month grant from Community Catalyst, a national consumer health advocacy organization. The project received local funding in May 2012 from the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust to continue for another year. HAP has worked to address the significant medical debt problem in Marion County by educating and empowering citizens on their rights and responsibilities as medical consumers and negotiating with non-profit hospitals to improve their charity care and financial assistance policies.

Over the past year, the activities undertaken by HAP have included door-to-door canvassing to collect medical debt surveys and distribute information about upcoming meetings as well as informational brochures. HAP also conducted community meetings throughout the city with the aide of Indiana Legal Services, which provided an opportunity for people to learn about non-profit hospitals’ financial assistance programs, how to negotiate their bill, how to re-build bad credit, and ways to avoid bankruptcy. A train-the-trainer luncheon was held for community organizations and direct service providers to help them provide better assistance to their members/clients with medical debt. HAP also met with key hospital leaders to continue discussions about the visibility and accessibility of their financial assistance programs.

Purpose of the Survey

During the first round of the project, one of the initial activities undertaken by HAP was the development of a survey to better understand the experiences and situations of individuals with medical debt. 547 surveys were collected in a 10 month time frame and a report, called Medical Debt in Indianapolis was published detailing the findings. (Appendix I and II provide a summary of the survey findings as well as a copy of the survey.) The crux of the report challenged the non-profit hospitals to do a better job of notifying patients about their financial assistance programs and making these programs easier to access and more consumer-friendly.

HAP continued to collect surveys from 2012-2013 in order to support our ongoing negotiations with the hospitals and to monitor whether changes were taking place with regard to notification, increased awareness, and accessibility to non-profit hospitals’ financial assistance programs. 442 surveys were collected via door-to-door canvassing, tabling at events, online submissions, and community meetings. A breakdown and summary of the results are listed below. (Please note that every respondent did not respond to every section of the survey.)

Full report available here as a PDF.