Kelli Clark knows that long after patients’ health problems are resolved, financial challenges can persist. As manager of patient financial services, she and her team support patients’ financial well-being, alleviating stress so patients can focus on their health and healing. “Just as our excellent clinicians care for people’s bodies, minds and spirits, we are here to care for their financial health.”
“We’re so much more than just the billing department,” she says. Clark’s team of financial counselors, claims specialists and customer service representatives help people understand their bills and insurance coverage, as well as setting up payment plans to help those who can’t pay all at once. But the team also helps patients be proactive about their own financial well-being, offering community workshops and one-on-one sessions to enroll in the Health Care Marketplace or BadgerCare.
“10 years ago, health coverage was so much simpler. You paid your deductible, and that was that,” she says. Now, a constantly changing health insurance landscape and the prevalence of high-deductible plans make paying for health care more complex.
Clark sees many local families who are caught in the middle. “These are working people who are doing everything they can, but then a health issue sets them back financially in a big way.” That’s where Community Care, DCMC’s charitable program, makes a difference. Patients in need who provide their financial information are eligible to have a percentage of their health care costs covered by DCMC. “This is a service we perform as an organization because we believe so strongly in caring for all people,” says Clark. “It feels really good to be part of an organization that values people and believes in providing health care for all. That’s our bottom line.”
Hospital finance is a second career for Clark, who also worked in the juvenile criminal system. “That experience gave me a unique perspective on the many struggles people have that often go unnoticed,” she says. Clark’s compassion is shared by her team, from financial counselors who go the extra mile to accommodate patients to customer service representatives who reassure callers who are worried or confused about their medical bills.
She shares the story of an unnamed patient who needed a joint replacement. “It wasn’t a life and death situation,” she says, “but his quality of life just wasn’t there. He was really suffering.” The man lacked insurance, so DCMC’s financial counselors worked with him to find an affordable insurance plan through the Marketplace. Once he was insured, he went forward with the surgery at DCMC’s Bone and Joint Center, and the Community Care program helped with his deductibles. “Now he’s healed and doing very well,” says Clark. “Helping people like him is why I love this job.”