Health Industry Develops Medical Credit Score

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Medical Credit Score

The health technology firm HealthcareAnalytics is creating a new credit score -- called medFICO --that would rate an individual's ability to pay medical bills, theMcClatchy/Baltimore Sunreports. The score could be introduced as early as this summer insome hospitals. MedFICO would reflect on-time medical bill paymentsand would include only billing data, not information indicating thereason for treatment. Hospitals would check the score after a patientis discharged to help officials to decide whether a patient canafford to pay bills or whether hospitals should write the debt off asuncollectible.

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Development of the score is funded by FairIsaac, Tenet Healthcareand North Bridge VenturePartners. A sense of the extent of uncollectible bills would helphospitals determine whether to invest in new projects and moreaccurately balance expenses against gross income, according toMcClatchy/Sun.

However, consumer advocates areconcerned that the scores might lead lower-income patients with lowerscores to receive poorer quality health care than those with highermedFICO scores. Linda Foley, founder of the IdentityTheft Resource Center, said, "How much assurance do I havethat they're not going to look at this medFICO first, before theydecide whether to treat or not?" Consumer advocates also saythat given the problems associated with the current Fair Isaac creditscore, such as identity theft and inaccurate scoring data, it shouldnot be used as a basis for a medical credit score.

StephenFarber, chair and CEO of Healthcare Analytics, said, "We onlycome into play once the patient has been treated and discharged, andthe bill already exists," adding, "We help figure out whatsort of relief a hospital should grant the patients"(McClatchy/Baltimore Sun, 1/2).

Reprinted with permission fromkaisernetwork.org.You can view the entire KaiserDaily Health Policy Report, search the archives, andsign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report ispublished for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J.Kaiser Family Foundation.

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