Blue Ridge HealthCare – Community Benefit
Telling Our Story
A community’s healthcare system means different things to different people. For 1,700 people in our community, Blue Ridge HealthCare is an employer, the largest in Burke County.
For 2,000 needy students in the Burke County Public Schools, Blue Ridge HealthCare helps make care at school possible for their routine, chronic and sudden medical needs by funding six of the 12 School Nurses who serve the system’s 13,000 students. For 1,600 student athletes, Blue Ridge HealthCare and physician partners perform their sports physicals every year, ensuring their readiness and searching for risk factors.
For hundreds of college students aspiring to healthcare careers, Blue Ridge HealthCare is a place they experience learning in a real-life classroom under the guiding hands of experienced nurses and other professionals.
For new physicians-in-training, Blue Ridge HealthCare is a place where medical residents and medical students are taught the healing arts by some of the community’s finest physicians through our Graduate Medical Education program.
For many non-profit organizations, Blue Ridge HealthCare is an important partner in addressing our county’s most serious challenges, from helping those in need, to economic development and to bringing jobs to the community.
But the vast majority of people look to Blue Ridge HealthCare to safeguard one of life’s most precious assets: their health. Whoever they are. Whatever their circumstances. 24 hours a day. Every day of the year.
Our mission of enhancing life by excelling in care applies to everyone, regardless of their ability to pay. As a non-profit hospital, this is the heart and soul of what is called our “Community Benefit.”
Activities like thousands of free health screenings, support for non-profit community groups, healthcare career education and other worthwhile causes are part of our community benefit, but our primary community benefit is access to care for those in need. In these tough economic times in Burke County, with unemployment remaining above 10%, this contribution has never been more important to so many people.
Our total Community Benefit in 2011 was its highest ever: just under $60 million in charity care for patients unable to pay, covering bad debts for medical bills that go unpaid and payment shortfalls from Medicaid and Medicare.
Charity Care: Blue Ridge HealthCare provided care to 9,000 “charity” patients in 2011, people who could not pay for their care and did not qualify for state or federal assistance depend on Blue Ridge HealthCare as their healthcare "safety net." The actual cost of caring for charity patients was just under $6 million in 2011. BRHC received no outside funding to help offset this cost. Criteria to qualify for charity care change every year, so if you believe you may qualify, please call one of our financial counselors at 580-5090 (Grace Hospital) or 580-7576 (Valdese Hospital).
Bad Debts: Even with the best of intentions, patients cannot always meet their responsibility to pay for the care they receive. This can happen when someone loses their job, cannot afford their insurance deductible or co-pay, suffers a temporary hardship or for any number of reasons. This leaves Blue Ridge HealthCare to cover the unpaid balance or even the entire bill, an expense referred to as "bad debt." In 2011, bad debt cost BRHC more than $13 million. A growing problem, bad debt constitutes a significant community benefit.
Medicaid: The vast majority of people in our community who are enrolled in Medicaid depend on Grace and Valdese Hospitals for their care. With federal and state funding covering only part of the actual cost of providing this care, BRHC was left to cover about $16 million in Medicaid shortfalls in 2011 – a community benefit that is nothing less than a lifeline for children, expectant women, adults in families with dependent children, persons with disabilities, and individuals 65 or over who qualify for assistance. If you have questions about or believe you may qualify for Medicaid, please contact one of our financial counselors at 580-5090 or 580-7576.
Medicare: Our hospitals in Morganton and Valdese serve thousands of persons covered by Medicare. Like Medicaid, Medicare funding does not cover the actual cost of delivering hospital services to people enrolled in the program. In 2011, Blue Ridge HealthCare was left to make up the $23 million difference between what Medicare paid and the actual cost of services. If you have questions about Medicare, please call 1-800-MEDICARE.
BRHC also discounts charges for qualified patients who have no health insurance, are underinsured or do not qualify for public programs. Our financial counselors work one-on-one with these patients to assist them with a personal plan to manage their medical bills, including low interest financing options when needed. If you believe you may qualify for the discount policy, please call one of our financial counselors at 580-5090 or 580-7576.
Our Community Benefit reflects what we believe at Blue Ridge HealthCare:
We are for expanding healthcare coverage to meet the needs of individuals, our healthcare system and physicians.
*Community Benefit information included on our web site reflects actual costs, not charges, for 2011, the latest complete year of community benefit information available.
© 2012 Blue Ridge HealthCare