For many patients, the most stressful part of enduring a medical emergency or health incident isn’t the needles, taking the medicine or a surgery.
It’s the bills.
Throughout the U.S., many patients and their families receive medical bills and feel overwhelmed by the cost of their health care.
Lynn Cash, supervisor of medicaid eligibility and financial assistance at Nash UNC Health Care, is the hospital’s secret weapon to help curb some of that anxiety and stress.
Cash said she and a team of five employees focus on screening self-pay and insured patients that may need assistance or counseling on paying their out-of-pocket medical expenses.
“We assist patients with applying for Medicaid, Social Security Disability, Financial Assistance, Crime Victims Assistance, medication assistance, etc.,” Cash said. “We also provide understanding of outstanding balances and discuss payment options if none of the above programs are an option.”
While it may seem unusual for someone associated with hospital bills to have a fan club, Cash has accrued many thank you notes, official thank you letters and positive patient reviews over the past 10 years.
Patients speak of her calming manner and eagerness to help find answers or a solution. One patient who wrote a letter to the Office of Medicaid Eligibility at UNC Health Care said that Cash “put our minds at ease, and her professional demeanor and willingness to explain the financial assistance system ensured we understood the process and offered a much-needed peace of mind.”
The family indicated they wanted the letter put in Cash’s “records” so she would be recognized.
Cash said that helping to ease the burdens of those that have recently gone through a hospital stay or emergency room visit is very important to her.
“Number one, I want people to know we can work it out — the most important thing is their health,” Cash said. “I have seen many moments over the years where the assistance we are offering made all the difference in the patient’s outcome physically, mentally and emotionally.”
Cash’s coworkers attest to her efforts to do what it takes to help patients. Enola Hicks said she’s seen Cash go “above and beyond” to help a patient.
“She took the time to help a family obtain the necessary paperwork for charity care and went above and beyond to assist them with their food stamps. Because of Lynn, we were able to accomplish a safe discharge home,” Hicks said. “She always demonstrates excellence and Carolina Care.”
Cash has been at Nash UNC for 16 years. She started out as a secretary at the Nash Pain Center and was eventually offered a chance to become one of Nash UNC’s first financial counselors.
“There were two of us and we screened patients for various programs and worked with other departments and a Medicaid vendor to ensure patients were informed of their financial responsibilities as well their options in handling the cost of care,” Cash said.
Cash was later made a supervisor when, two years ago, the Medicaid Eligibility staff and Financial Counselors became a shared service that is managed by UNC Health Care. Cash oversees a staff of about five people.
“We interact with patients and their families regarding assistance and that is truly something that makes me very happy,” she said.
Cash said no matter where you seek medical care, in regard to paying the bill, it’s important to stay informed, ask questions and stay in contact with the health care facility.
“I encourage people to be knowledgeable of the various programs available. There are all kinds of resources that people can access to help them,” Cash said. “Don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are people who really want to help people find the resources and lighten the load of medical cost concerns.”