Altru HERO Program Saves Patients Over $65 Million in 2020 and 2021

Editor Special to Devils Lake Journal
Altru Marketing Communications
Front row, from left: Jill Cormier, financial counseling supervisor; Kari Langan, financial counselor; Kristin Higdem, financial counselor. Back row from left: Tanya Stack, financial counselor; Shari Justice, financial counselor; Linda Olson, financial counselor; Rob Hanson, patient advocacy coordinator. Not pictured: Brenda Danielson, financial counselor; Maureen Potucek, financial counselor.

NORTH DAKOTA – At Altru Health System, patients who receive care but have a hard time affording it have a special resource available.

The Healthcare Eligibility Resource Options (HERO) program is made up of a team of financial counselors available to connect patients with resources.

Over the last couple of years, the HERO Program has saved Altru patients $65 million and has helped nearly 5,000 people. This is money that would have been directly billed to patients had the HERO program not connected them with financial assistance.

“Our patients greatly benefit from the services of the HERO program. The patients get the care they need, benefitting their personal health, and then connections to financial assistance, benefitting their financial health and wellness,” explains Doug Arvin, chief financial officer at Altru Health System.

Patients who are uninsured or underinsured work with financial counselors from the HERO program. Together, they fill out applications for financial assistance including Medicaid, health insurance on the marketplace (where health insurance can be purchased) or other options available to the patient.

“Knowing every day that I get to come to work, make a difference and help people is what keeps me going,” said Jill Cormier, financial counseling supervisor. “We’re helping patients get the healthcare they need and enriching their life; this is the mission of Altru.”

Altru is the only hospital in North Dakota offering financial counseling and patient advocacy programs where the financial counselors are certified in both North Dakota and Minnesota to assist patients in finding coverage beyond Medicaid.

“We have heard a lot of positive feedback about the program and that’s why we continue to do what we do,” said Cormier.

Paying for healthcare is not the only help available to patients. The HERO Program also makes sure patients have clothing, housing assistance and food to eat once they get home.

“We want to treat the patients as a whole,” said Cormier. “We don’t want you to end up back in that vicious cycle because you can’t pay your medical bills.”