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Last updated 7:36PM ET
March 6, 2021
West Alabama Hospitals Faced with More Uninsured
(APR - Alabama Public Radio ) - Although the number of Americans without health insurance dropped in 2007, local hospitals are seeing a growing number of patients who can't pay for their medical treatment.

During the first 10 months of fiscal year 2008, DCH Regional Medical Center spent $95.6 million in 'free care' that people couldn't or wouldn't pay. That's up 17 percent from the same period in 2007.

"Patients are saying they have to make a choice between paying day-to-day expenses and the ever rising cost of (insurance) premiums," said Mike Wilson, director of business services for DCH Health System.

The trend at DCH is mirrored in hospitals nationwide, which are seeing a growing number of bad debt and charity cases coming through their doors.

During an economic slump, hospital bills are likely the last ones that people pay, said Alwyn Cassil, spokeswoman for the Center for Studying Health System Change, a non-partisan organization that does policy research on health issues.

To try to recoup unpaid bills, DCH Health System contracts with Med Standard, which interviews uninsured patients to find ways for them to pay their medical bills.

According to its Web site, DCH Health System receives about $4.4 million a year from the tax specifically to pay for the health care of the poor.
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