Despite the fact that it's critical for hospitals to qualify uninsured patients for charity care programs ranging from federal and state insurance to institutional programs within your own organization, sometimes it just doesn't happen. However, there will be many vendors at this year's show who hope to improve your track record. One eligibility services vendor who will be attending is Advanced Patient Advocacy, which boasts that it can achieve a minimum of 35 percent reduction of uncollectible receivables. Others, like MedAssist and Eligibility Plus, offer eligibility help as part of a suite of A/R management services. Some companies focus largely on Medicaid and other state programs, while some, like DECO, also extend their services to helping patients pay for care from sources like SSI/SSDI and funding for victims of crime in addition to state and federal insurance programs. Given the bad debt hit most hospitals are taking these days, I suspect these vendors will get an enthusiastic hearing. If given a choice between pursuing self-pay patients on their own, and discovering a better-financed party who will pay for that patient, hospitals would be crazy not to consider choice two.