Saturday, December 03, 2005

Hospitals Starting To Bill At Time Of Service

From The Day (New London, CT):

Nowadays, when you visit the hospital, you'd better make sure you bring your checkbook, cash or a credit card along with your insurance card.

The Westerly Hospital announced this week that it would start asking patients to make their insurance co-payment when they come in for care, rather than wait for a bill. Co-payments –– the portion of medical bills that private health insurance companies expect patients to pay –– vary widely, but $50 or $75 for an Emergency Room visit isn't uncommon.

The Westerly Hospital is simply following the lead of other nonprofit hospitals, said Cristine Vogel, commissioner of the Connecticut Office of Health Care Access, which regulates hospitals. She noted that physicians' and dentists' offices have long collected co-payments from patients when they come in for their appointments, and hospitals should be no different. Hospitals are waiving the practice whenever care is needed immediately, she added, and are not withholding care from anyone who is unable to pay.


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