He says the price decrease, which was instituted Jan. 1, made a difference, but admittedly not a huge one, and it "almost ends up being more cosmetic than anything."
But it does show movement in the right direction in making healthcare more affordable. And Cleveland Regional is starting to go further.
In an effort to make a bigger difference, Ayers says, "now we've instituted a program where any private pay patient who expresses a desire to pay, but their bill is insurmountable, we discount all the way to the Medicare charge and work out a payment plan."
While Cleveland Regional's approach is far from revolutionary, at least it's evolutionary, which is more than I can say for many of the big nonprofit health systems that have recently gotten into hot water over their collection practices, when they should have known better in the first place.
The difference with Cleveland Regional's leadership is that they're not just ignoring the problem of high prices charged to people without insurance. However small, they're attempting to do something about it by making healthcare a little bit more affordable to those patients, and they're doing the work themselves—not farming collections out to a separate company, and dealing with the fallout when things go wrong.
It's preferable to getting nothing from this patient class, and loads better than getting less than nothing.