Service Spotlight: Patient Business Services
For Suzanne Thornton and Aunita Erskine, coming to work every day is a rewarding — and sometimes emotional — experience.
“We are helping to alleviate so much anxiety for patients and their families,” said Suzanne, who has worked as a patient financial counselor with Michigan Medicine’s Patient Business Services for 20 years.
Financial counselors help patients understand their bills, insurance coverage (or gaps in coverage) and assist them in determining deductibles, applying for coverage and setting up payment plans.
“Often, the cost of care and dealing with insurance can seem overwhelming to many people,” said Aunita, who has been with the organization for 40 years and now serves as the Children’s Special Health Care Services coordinator. “I help identify kids who are eligible for the state of Michigan’s Children’s Special Health Care Services program, which can alleviate a lot of their cost burden.”
“I’ve had parents start crying over the phone or in our office when I tell them what sort of assistance is available,” Aunita continued. “That shows how meaningful our work truly is.”
If a patient in your unit or department is uninsured, has limited insurance or has exhausted their insurance benefits, refer them to Patient Business Services.
Financial counselors are available from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday at various locations throughout the health system. Patients can also reach them via email at PFC-Counselors@med.umich.edu or by calling 877-326-9155.
“Patients who have a clear understanding of their medical costs and options for payments are less likely to default on payments or incur burdensome debt,” said Alena Hill, director of Patient Business Services. “Just like our outstanding clinicians, we’re all part of a team working together to do what’s best for our patients.”