Working 4 you: More hospitals ask for payment upfront
SPOKANE, Wash. — If you’re planning any future trips to the hospital, you may want to get your credit card ready before heading into the operating room. That’s because hospitals are increasingly asking patients to pay for procedures either upfront, or before they’re discharged.
Traditionally, neither patients nor providers knew the exact price of procedures until after the insurer processed the charges, but that’s all changing.
New technology is now allowing hospitals to determine a patient’s responsibility in advance of treatment.
Hospitals say it’s important to discuss the cost as early as possible because patients are facing higher deductibles and larger payments for services. Administrators say many people don’t even know what their deductible is.
Officials say Americans are shouldering a greater portion of their health care bills, and medical centers don’t want to get stuck paying what their patients can’t.
But for those who are worried about footing the bill early, hospitals are providing several options.
If patients can’t afford the charges, many hospitals will place them into financial assistance programs, such as payment plans or low-interest loans.
Some hospitals are also helping their patients sign up for Medicaid or pick the coverage that is right for them on the Affordable Care Act exchanges.
But if you’re still worried about it, many say you can still wait until your bill goes through insurance.
According to the American Hospital Association, hospitals provided $46 billion in uncompensated care in 2012, that’s about 6% of their total expenses.