Patient Assistance In the New Year

Even once philanthropic medical financial aid is flowing, patient assistance programs require re-enrollment every year...

Atlas Health Team
January 24, 2022
Patient gift sent to an Atlas Health advocate

It’s a new year, and open enrollment is over. While record numbers have signed up for insurance, there are still far too many people who have no coverage, are underinsured and worry every day about high out-of-pocket costs.

Some patients, especially those facing cancer, chronic conditions and rare diseases, are fortunate to discover and take advantage of philanthropic medical financial aid programs to cover some or all of their medical expenses. There are over 20,000 such patient assistance and social support programs out there designed to help bridge this gap. However, patients – and many hospitals and health systems – are often unaware of these programs.

Searching the Internet on their own or with the help of friends and family, it is hard to find the right program that patients qualify for based on their medical condition and financial situation. Even then, program application and enrollment processes are complex, and it can take much effort and time until they are awarded a free drug, copay, foundation or charity assistance.

Hospitals and health systems also directly help patients to access and afford care by leveraging these financial aid programs. Financial navigators, medication assistance coordinators, social workers and patient advocates often struggle to match patients with the right program, and that is the easy part. The requirements are rigorous, and programs open and close frequently based on the level of funds and patients enrolled. Needed data is siloed inside and outside of the hospital or system, and many organizations rely on manual processes to coordinate across multiple departments. Combined with staff shortages and all of the other work to deliver care, collecting awards for patients is challenging.

Even once aid is flowing, patient assistance programs require re-enrollment every year, which sometimes comes with unexpected bad news. Patients can be surprised to find out that the help they received last year may not be funded by a program anymore. While their disease or condition persists to burden their health and wellbeing, the search and approval process starts all over again.

Atlas Health’s automation technology and dedicated advocates work on behalf of hospitals and health systems to unlock the $30B in annual philanthropic medical financial aid across thousands of programs with an end-to-end solution to match, enroll, collect and re-enroll their patients. Check out this Atlas patient story from Lauren where the good news would soon travel fast for one patient whose program was defunded in 2022 with only ten days’ left of medication that he desperately needed…