|MAGGIE'S STORY: EDWARD CHARITY CARE
HELPS EASE FEARS.
Maggie Kremkow first noticed the lump in her breast in early December 2010. Her doctor was suspicious as well and ordered tests, which confirmed that Maggie had breast cancer.
"I had never been sick a day in my life," says Maggie, a 45-year old resident of Naperville. "To get sick like that was not easy."
That's also when another reality hit – she had no health insurance. Maggie had recently started a new job and her coverage had not taken effect, and she wasn't eligible for her husband's insurance.
"You're frightened because you have cancer and you're frightened because you don't have insurance," recalls Maggie.
Edward addressed both fears.
Beginning in late January 2011, the Edward Cancer Center team began treating Maggie with a combination of chemotherapy and the drug Herceptin, with the goal of shrinking her tumor.
At the same time, Maggie learned she was going to be cared for regardless of her insurance situation because she qualified for Edward's Financial Assistance Policy, also known as charity care – the cost of medical services provided free or partially reimbursed. Edward Hospital, Edward Medical Group, Linden Oaks at Edward and Linden Oaks Medical Group all treat patients without regard for their ability to pay for services.
Charity care is just one element of Edward's Community Benefit, which totaled nearly $79.1 million in fiscal year 2011, the ninth year in a row the amount has increased. Charity care grew to more than $13.6 million, a 10 percent increase over fiscal year 2010 and the eighth straight year the amount has risen. Link to the fiscal year 2011 report.
"We care for patients 24/7/365 regardless of their ability to pay. Patients like Maggie Kremkow and thousands more like her," says Pamela Davis, president & CEO, Edward Hospital. "In fact, while hospitals in this region compete on many fronts, we come together to provide well-coordinated care for the tens of thousands of uninsured and working poor who live in this region. We work closely with our physicians and local governments to create an effective safety net."
Edward provides 100% assistance for uninsured patients who earn up to three times the U.S. poverty level. There's a sliding scale that ranges from 95-60% for those whose income is three to five times the poverty level. For uninsured patients, even those with incomes above this level, Edward offers the Hospital Uninsured Patient Discount, which reduces charges to no more than 135% of cost. Edward will work with patients to develop payment plans to pay off remaining balances.
In addition, Edward has specially trained counselors who help uninsured patients apply for public aid, and social workers and discharge planners who work with community clinics, primary care doctors and follow-up providers to provide care to qualifying patients on a sliding scale or at no cost.
Through the fall of 2011, Edward's charity care program had covered more than $420,000 of Maggie's breast cancer treatment.
"There's a sense of relief to know I'm not burdened with hundreds of thousands of dollars of medical bills," says Maggie. "It was one less thing that I had to worry about. I didn't have to stress every time I went to the hospital."
There was more relief for Maggie in August 2011 when surgery revealed her tumor had responded well to treatment. So well, that it had disappeared. Tests showed no sign of cancer. Radiation treatments followed surgery to target any remaining cancer cells and Maggie will continue to take Herceptin through spring 2012.
"It was caught early enough and the treatments worked. I couldn't have asked for a better outcome."
For more information, visit www.edward.org/financialassistance or call (630) 527-3100.