An analysis of 43,600 patient accounts at North Shore Long Island Jewish Health System with balances greater than $50 at discharge shows that when a family's spending on health care exceeds 3.5 percent of income, a tipping point is reached on the ability to pay.

The 14-hospital delivery system in Great Neck, N.Y., had Chicago-based TransUnion Healthcare conduct the analysis. The tipping point is the percentage of medical debt where a hospital's ability to get paid dramatically declines. While the tipping point is 3.5 percent for North Shore's patient population, it may be different for other organizations' populations.

The results enabled North Shore to identify a new group of patients potentially eligible for charity care, rather than being classified as bad debt. When a patient hasn't completed a charity application or taken other steps to resolve their balance, the delivery system screens the account against TransUnion's data analytics system and, if appropriate, presumptively designates the account as charity care.

A study of the data analysis done at North Shore is available here.

--Joseph Goedert


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