Cedars-Sinai widens charity care eligibility

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Los Angeles-based Cedars-Sinai is expanding its financial assistance policy to patients who make nearly $50,000 a year, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The change means Cedars-Sinai patients will have access to one of the most generous charity care policies offered by California's 10 biggest nonprofit hospitals. This is a reversal from recent years: Cedars-Sinai spent only 0.19 percent of its operating expenses on charity care in 2018, compared to an average 0.9 percent among other California nonprofit hospitals.

Cedars-Sinai notes the charity care percentage does not account for grants for low-income patients and the number of patients it serves with Medicaid and other public insurance, which reflects 16.5 percent of its revenue.

The change, effective Jan. 1, will raise the hospital's threshold for charity care from 200 percent of the federal poverty level — or an annual income of $24,980 per individual — to 400 percent of the poverty level — or $49,960 a person. Additionally, patients with incomes up to 600 percent of the poverty level can access discounted care.

In a statement to the Los Angeles Times, the hospital said the policy change aims to address a growing underinsured population, whose high deductibles and other out-of-pocket payments have made care unaffordable.

"More of our patients are having financial difficulties, so we want to help them," Cedars-Sinai told the publication in an emailed statement.

Read the full report here.

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