Jennifer Jeter enjoyed her job as a customer service representative in Yale New Haven Health System's business office, contacting patients to discuss paying their hospital bills. If patients had financial problems affecting their ability to pay, she would provide them with basic information about the hospital's various payment assistance programs and refer them to a specialist in another of the hospital's Patient Financial and Admitting Services (PFAS) departments.
Then Jennifer saw a job posting for one of those financial specialist's positions.
"When I read the job description on the Yale-New Haven Hospital website, I felt like I was a perfect candidate," Jennifer said, referring in particular to her knowledge of Connecticut's Medicaid services for individuals and families available through YNHH. She was indeed ideal for the position and has served as a capable and caring PFAS agency coordinator for the past five years, primarily helping low-income patients admitted to the hospital navigate the Medicaid application process.
"Whether they arrive through the general admitting office, the Emergency Department or the Primary Care centers, once it's determined there is an insurance issue, that's when they get referred to our area," Jennifer explained. "We don't turn anyone away," she added.
YNHH recognizes that some patients may be uninsured, not have adequate insurance or otherwise lack the resources to pay for health care. Honoring its mission and commitment to the community, the hospital participates in government-sponsored programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, HUSKY, CHAMPUS and Tricare. During 2011, YNHH provided services for 184,625 Medicaid beneficiaries at a total expense of $121.6 million.
YNHH also offers a sliding scale of discounted fees and free care for eligible patients, and even funds the salaries of three on-site State Department of Social Services employees. During 2011, YNHH delivered such financial assistance services to nearly 26,670 persons at a total expense of $19.5 million.
Jennifer was born at YNHH, as were her two young children, and still lives in New Haven. Her parents do, too. In fact, a health-related experience with her mother a few years ago gave Jennifer first-hand experience with the hospital's financial assistance programs, as well as empathy in dealing with patients. "My mom had a stroke, and her insurance only covered a certain amount of her care at Yale-New Haven," she recalled. "I helped her apply for Medicaid's Title 19 program."
Understanding that process, and other insurance programs from her former job and her mother's encounter, enables Jennifer to address the needs of YNHH's diverse patient population — from newborns whose parents have inadequate insurance to undocumented immigrants reluctant to reveal their status. "Each case is different," she says, which presents the challenge — and the joy — of her work.
"It's not always easy," she admitted, "but I love what I do, being able to help someone every day. It's joyful. That's my reward."
For more information about YNHH's Financial Counseling Services, visit http://www.ynhh.org/community-health/financial_counseling_serv.aspx.