Let RHSHC’s New Financial Counselor Help

CRESCO - “I’m here to help,” Regional Health Services of Howard County’s (RHSHC) new Financial Counselor, Susie Balk, said. “There are options. We try to help.”
This is the important message Balk wants to get to the community: that help is available and patients need only ask to access it.
So how does a financial counselor help? There are a multitude of ways, both big and small, but the bottom line is to help people with their financing. 
“I’m here if you have questions about your bills,” Balk said.“Patients will ask, ‘Hey, is there anybody to explain something to me?’ and that’s when I get involved.” She meets with patients and explains a bill, or explains options on paying the bill. 
“I can look up bills and answer questions on them,” she explained. “I can help people get financial assistance with their bill, and I also do payment estimations. There are a lot of times that we have doctors come over from other hospitals, so we try to get their professional fees as well as our costs when we give estimates.”
“I also help people get on Medicaid,” she added. “Or point them in the right direction. And if I can’t help them, I find someone who can.”
A Cresco native, Balk joined the RHSHC team on Dec. 18 of last year. She comes to her position from Country Winds Manor, where she was the Director of Assisted Living. With a degree in administrative office management and accounting, she was the perfect fit for the new position of Financial Counselor.
“The first couple of weeks, I got to see the whole revenue cycle of the hospital,” she said. “I sat from the beginning, way to the end of the billing. It was kind of neat. I enjoyed that. I saw all aspects of the hospital. It was really interesting to watch.”
And that interest directly translates to how she can help patients manage the finances involved with their care.
“Like the other day, I was doing a payment estimator with a gentleman, showing him the options with the payment plans,” she said. “And right before that, I was working with some Spanish-speaking patients, going over their bill, helping them get on a finance plan. Sometimes they don’t understand their bill with the language barrier, so I was helping them understand their bill.”
In addition to working directly with the patients themselves, Balk also works with a social worker, particularly when she assists people with getting Presumptive Medicaid. 
“Presumptive Medicaid is when, say, someone comes in to the ER, and they don’t have insurance,” Balk explained. “Their income is really low, and they know they can’t pay. We can put in an application for Presumptive Medicaid right online, and they will know within minutes if they have been denied or accepted. And if they are accepted, then Medicaid will cover them for that one month. After that time, Medicaid will send them more information to get on regular Medicaid, but at least for that one month, they are covered.”
There are also other programs for patients who have no medical insurance, such as self pay discounts and charity care, depending on the situation. Balk is the point person for all these financial assistance programs and can help patients in need apply for them.
“I enjoy helping people,” Balk said. “It makes you feel good when they can walk away with a smile on their face because you’ve done something good for them.”
She also enjoys the challenge of working with so many people in so many different ways. “I enjoy the challenge of different things,” she said. “It’s always something different at RHSHC. One day is always different from the others. It keeps you bouncing. It never gets boring.”
But mostly, it’s all about the people. “You don’t need to be afraid to come up here [to the clinic] and ask for help,” she said. “There’s always somebody here to help you.”
So if you feel the need for some assistance with, or clarification of, your hospital bill, go to the clinic and ask for help. Or, if you prefer, you can talk to Susie Balk on the phone just by calling the clinic number and asking for her. As she said earlier, “I’m here to help.” And she means it.

Cresco Times

Phone: 563-547-3601
Fax: 563-547-4602

Cresco TPD
214 N. Elm Street
Cresco, IA 52136

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