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Highlights | Financial Services helps patients afford the care they need

  • Mission Forward goals include:
    • Finding coverage for uninsured and underinsured patients.
    • Working with insurance companies to reduce denial rates.
    • Billing insurers more quickly and securing more Medicaid coverage for patients.

Navigating complex insurance plans can be overwhelming and difficult, especially during a medical emergency. But that’s exactly what UW Medicine’s financial services teams do for our patients.

Their work is a critical part of the patient experience by ensuring fair and transparent procedure costs while supporting patients who may have trouble paying. The team also ensures that UW Medicine gets reimbursed by insurance companies to help keep our bottom line healthy.

Helping patients navigate coverage

From the moment a patient steps through our doors, UW Medicine’s financial counseling and clearance teams are ready to help navigate insurance complexities. This includes walking patients through the billing process with compassionate and straightforward explanations.

“It’s about building trust with our patients,” says Julie Nelson, senior director of UW Medicine’s Patient Financial Access Services team.

Nelson and her colleagues create a comprehensive file for each patient to understand their financial situation. They also work with the patient’s care team to understand what procedures will be needed, work proactively with insurance companies to reduce denial rates and help uninsured or underinsured patients find coverage or another financial solution such as financial aid.

“When we do our work upfront, we’re able to provide the best support for our patients,” Nelson says. “It’s as simple as that.”

Ensuring financial health

As part of Mission Forward, Financial Services has been able to reduce costs and create more efficient, sustainable workflows, including an initiative to reduce uncompensated care.

Through this work, UW Medicine is now able to submit faster, more accurate claims and receive more timely reimbursements from insurance companies. Another benefit of these improved processes is an increase in the number of patients covered by Medicaid, which is currently reducing our uncompensated care by $2.1 million monthly.

“When you can tell a patient that you’ve secured coverage for their costly surgery from their insurance company, it’s a great feeling,” says Victoria Holland, director of Patient Financial Access Services. “We’re not doctors or nurses, but we see ourselves as a vital part of the patient’s care team.”