This is the Methodist Healthcare response to the recent media coverage of some of its billing-related practices:


 

FROM: Michael Ugwueke, President & CEO

Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare provides exceptional care to every patient we serve, regardless of their ability to pay. Nobody cares for more people in Shelby County than Methodist.

But we do more than that. As a not‐for-profit, mission-driven organization, we also recognize our responsibility to help our patients who struggle with medical expenses and who are seeking to better their lives. Every person matters to us.

Recent media attention has focused on our organization's practices for collecting overdue medical bills. The spotlight placed on our health system does not accurately portray our team members or the extensive and thoughtful processes we have in place to help both uninsured and insured patients.

Let's look at the facts.

We invest more than any other health system in Memphis to care for our neighbors living in poverty. Each year Methodist provides over $220 million in community benefit services and contributions to care for the most vulnerable among us. This total includes charity care - care that is offered for free or at a greatly reduced cost - that is provided to patients who do not have the ability to pay.

We offer a generous financial assistance policy as well. Our team will work with every patient - insured and uninsured - struggling with medical expenses. Uninsured patients receive an automatic 70% discount off the cost of their care and we will work with any patient willing to work with us to create a payment plan that fits their budgets.

As the largest health system in Memphis, we see a lot of patients. Last year we had a total of 857,832 patient encounters, 87,521 of which were visits with uninsured patients. In every case, the only time we pursue legal action to collect a debt is when the patients who can pay refuse to work with us. Of the hundreds of thousands of patients we saw last year, we only went to court to collect debt from uninsured patients for less than one tenth of one percent of all the uninsured patients we saw, and only then after all other means to collect were exhausted.

But our investment in the city and our people is more than what we do. It's where we are. Methodist made the decision years ago to maintain a presence in all corners of our city.

Consider this, Methodist is the only system with hospitals in all four quadrants of our community. Having a hospital close to home can make a real difference during an emergency and Methodist provides these neighborhoods access to care because we believe every patient deserves it. It's a conscious investment in our city and our people.

Even with all this, we recognize that we serve a diverse community and we are always thinking about how we can do more and serve our community better. Over the next 30 days we will be reviewing our policies and procedures to ensure we are doing everything possible to provide every Memphian with the care and assistance they need. We want all patients to know and understand our financial assistance policies and we want to ensure our policies reflect our mission.

It's important to remember that at its core, Methodist is a team of committed and caring individuals working to deliver care to our friends and neighbors. If you have lived in Memphis long, you likely know someone who works at one of the Methodist hospitals in our city. You also know the dedication and commitment of our 13,000 team members and 2,300 medical professionals.

In all that we do, Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare works to provide exceptional patient care and uplift others. We have always been a driver of change, with the goal of continuous improvement of patient care and experience. Moving forward, we will continue to drive change inside and outside our walls and engage in an active dialogue around improving the lives of all those we serve.

Michael Ugwueke

President & CEO

Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare

 
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