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7:55 am
Mon September 16, 2013

UI Hospitals See More Uninsured Patients

University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City is seeing more uninsured patients as the state transitions into a new system for insuring low-income Iowans.
University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City is seeing more uninsured patients as the state transitions into a new system for insuring low-income Iowans.
Credit Wikimedia Commons

The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics is experiencing an increase in patients without health insurance.                   

UI Hospitals Chief Financial Officer Ken Fisher says the growth in uninsured patients coincides with the state stopping any further enrollment in the Iowa Care program for low-income residents.

“We have seen an increase since the first of July of about 1.5 percent self-pay than we have had in the past," Fisher says. "The principal reason is that the Iowa Care program has now capped its enrollment, and no more patients can go into Iowa Care."

The state is phasing out Iowa Care and eventually replacing it with expanded Medicaid sharing with the federal government under the federal healthcare overhaul. But in the meantime, low-income uninsured Iowans needing care are stuck with hospitals’ sticker price – and often, simply are not paying.

"Ultimately it means we’d have to cover paying patients that are no longer being paid," Fisher says. "It’s just potential less revenue.”

Fisher says he’s certain other hospitals across the state also are absorbing the bills of so-called self-paying patients – many of whom can’t pay the sticker price.