Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is Bridge Assistance?
A: Bridge Assistance is the PeaceHealth charity care program which provides medically necessary and preventive services for our patients at PeaceHealth facilities at a reduced cost or without charge when payment cannot be obtained through all other available financial resources. The Bridge Assistance program supports patients who may require secondary options or may not have options at all for paying for their care.
This policy is a way of managing the delicate balance of maintaining financial health and wise stewardship with our mission of providing community services in all of our service areas. It ensures that patients receive fair and equal financial treatment across PeaceHealth.
Q: Is Bridge Assistance a new policy?
A: PeaceHealth facilities have a long history of providing health care services to the sick and afflicted regardless of ability to pay. Our established charity care practices and policy are known as Bridge Assistance and provide one standard charity care policy across all of our system facilities. It works together with our Financial Counseling Services to help PeaceHealth identify patients who can benefit from Bridge Assistance.
Q: Why is it called Bridge Assistance?
A: In the spirit of our core value of “Respecting Individual Human Dignity and Worth,” PeaceHealth uses the name Bridge Assistance. Charity care often carries a negative connotation, so Bridge Assistance refers to bridging the gap of financial uncertainty for our patients in need.
Q: What types of services does it cover?
A: Bridge Assistance is granted for medically necessary services only.
“Medical necessity” refers to care that, in the opinion of the treating physician/clinician, is reasonably needed:
- To establish a diagnosis
- To provide palliative, curative or restorative treatment for physical, behavioral and/or mental health conditions
- To assist the individual to achieve goals established in conjunction with the care team related to functional capacity.
Q: Is Bridge Assistance available to cover non-PeaceHealth provider fees and services?
A: No, Bridge Assistance is granted only for financial obligations related to PeaceHealth services. It is not available for the services of physicians or other health care providers (unless such physicians or other healthcare providers are providing care to patients under a contract with PeaceHealth).
Q: Where is Bridge Assistance available?
A: The service area for Bridge Assistance is in the county/service area where the PeaceHealth facility is located.
Q: What if the patient lives outside of a PeaceHealth county/service area?
A: Patients who live outside PeaceHealth’s county/service area are eligible for Bridge Assistance when:
- The medically necessary service is not performed in the area where the patient resides and
- There is no facility that performs the service that is closer to the patient’s residence than a PeaceHealth facility, or
- The patient requires emergent services while visiting in PeaceHealth’s service area.
The Application Process
Q: What is the first step in determining eligibility?
A: Anyone seeking Bridge Assistance will be given a preliminary screening using PeaceHealth System Standards, which are outlined in the Financial Counseling Training Manual. If the information reviewed during the initial screening meets the criteria for further consideration, an application, which includes instructions on how to apply, is provided.
Q: Who can initiate this process?
A: A patient, physician, family members, community and religious groups, social services, or hospital personnel can request an initial screening to see if a patient is potentially eligible for Bridge Assistance. Anyone seeking Bridge Assistance will be given the preliminary screening.
Q: When can a patient apply?
A: A patient may apply for Bridge Assistance before, during or after treatment at any time during the billing and collection process.
Q: How does a patient apply?
A: In brief, there are two forms:
- Short Form Application provides a “fast track” for balances under $200 for clinics and $850 for hospitals
- Long Form Application is for balances over $200 for the clinic and, over $850 for a hospital and patient appeals from the Bridge Assistance Short Form.
Q: Is there confidentiality in this process?
A: PeaceHealth keeps all Bridge Assistance applications and supporting documentation confidential.
Q: Is the amount of care a determining factor?
A: Although separate forms are used, the process itself is the same for both eligibility and approval, regardless of the amount of the patient’s balance.
Q: How is payment addressed while this process is underway?
A: During this time period, pending final eligibility determination, PeaceHealth will not initiate collection efforts or requests for deposits provided that the responsible party is cooperative with PeaceHealth’s efforts to get payment from other sources.
How Eligibility is Determined
The guidelines used for Bridge Assistance include a review of:
- The responsible party’s annual household income
- Number of people in the home
- Securable assets (excluding primary residence, family’s primary mode of transportation and retirement accounts)
- Special medical costs
- Reasonable living expenses
- Credit history
- Existing debt
- Other indicators of the party’s ability to pay
These are guidelines. Each individual situation will be reviewed independently.
Bridge Assistance is granted to all applicants whose Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) falls at or below 100 percent of the current Federal Poverty Levels. Assets will not be considered for these applicants.
Bridge Assistance will be awarded to applicants whose Adjusted Gross Income of Federal Poverty Level (AGI for FPL) falls at or below the 400 percent of current Federal Poverty Level (FPL). AGI for FPL refers to Annual Income - Annual Special Medical Costs (prescriptions, rented durable medical supplies and health insurance premiums) = AGI for FPL. Assets and reasonable living expenses may also be considered when determining eligibility for Bridge Assistance for these applicants.
Bridge Assistance Grid (02/2006)
Percentage of Federal Poverty Level
Percentage of Bridge Assistance Provided
0 - 200
201 – 225
226 – 250
251 – 300
301 – 375
376 – 400
Q: When will a patient be notified of the decision?
A: Written notice of assistance determined within 14 calendar days from receipt of the completed application. The notification includes the level of reduction and reasonable payment arrangements consistent with the ability to pay. Denials include the reason for denial and instructions for appeal or reconsideration.
Q: What types of circumstances would not receive approval?
A: Bridge assistance is not granted for non-covered procedures as determined by a review committee or other special situations (for instance, when an individual who is eligible for insurance or government programs refused to apply). The non-covered list is updated annually; there is no case-by-case appeal process for non-covered services. The list of non-covered procedures is available from Patient Financial Services.
Q: Is there a way to appeal an eligibility decision?
A: Yes, the person responsible for the financial obligation may appeal for assistance by submitting additional information to the Patient Financial Services Director.
Bridge Assistance Resources
Q: Are printed resources available for patients?
A: Informational brochures are available at all PeaceHealth facilities in a number of areas such as registration desks, check-in areas, patient exam rooms and pay stations. In addition, they are available from Financial Counseling Services.
Q: Where can patients receive assistance?
A: For questions or assistance with this policy, please contact your Patient Financial Services department.