To try to mitigate the possible negative impact the exchanges may have on its revenue cycle, Kaleida is one of a handful of hospitals around the country that employs government grant-funded navigators to help patients enroll in HIX health plans, or to access Medicaid or charity care, if they are eligible.
Kaleida hopes that by educating patients who are newly covered through the exchanges, it can protect itself from the financial pitfalls of caring for patients who believe they have more insurance than they actually do. On average, navigators spend about an hour and a half per patient providing information on their various coverage options.
"These [patients] are not necessarily folks who have been in this environment before so it is a challenge for them to understand concepts like deductibles and premiums," Nichols says. "I am a big believer that having coverage increases the likelihood of accessing services, but the impact of that on the revenue cycle is unclear."