Member Questions

Ask a question

Just heard on CNN that hospitals are going to start checking your credit before you receive services. Is this fair? Or, just another way to marginalize health care for profits and separate those who can pay from those you can't?”

6 replies so far...

  • It's one of those situations where "you won't know until you get there" unfortunately.

    My recommendation... Now that you know this is what they're doing, ask lots of questions when and if you are sitting at the registration counter at your local hospital. And, get out the word to as many people as you can as this will eventually affect all of us. Hospital bills are too high to wait until after you've had your hospital stay and/or procedure to see what financial damage has been caused. Get in touch with your insurance beforehand and make sure what is covered and what isn't so you can empower yourself.

    If hospitals know the "customer" is informed (and that's a shame to have to refer to yourself as a customer in a hospital, but if they want their money and are wiling to go to these means to get it...) I suggest you treat them like you would any other place of business and make sure you going to get ALL of the services you're supposed to for any procedures you have to have in the hospital. Don't leave any decisions up to them if you can help it. Emergency care is a little different, but you can still arm yourself by checking with your insurance before hand to know what services you are entitled to and what you'll have to pay for out-of-pocket.

    Make sure to ask them to offer you everything on their "menu" of payment options if they don't offer it up front. Also, get them to explain what services you can expect to be billed for that your insurance may not cover and then set up a payment plan right then and there according to what financial plans they can offer.

    You didn't hear this from me, but that's why we need healthcare reform! This shouldn't be. If everyone was entitled to healthcare insurance (like they are in many other countries) hospitals would never think to come up with schemes like this to get their money.

    If you've never watched it, I personally suggest you run to Blockbuster and get a copy of Michael Moore's "Sicko." You'll learn alot about healthcare in America and abroad...and maybe as the consumer we can demand more from the insurance companies and our government so that hospitals can't assume this type of power.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by caramelsugarberry38 on 24th March 2008

  • Two thoughts come to mind after reading those.

    1. Hospitals ARE businesses so I can absolutely see their interest in understanding a "clients" financial situation. I can live with that. As long as that is all they are doing with the information.

    2. One of the articles commented that hospitals want this information so they can determine what payment plans people are eligible for and also what charity or other medical assistance they might be eligible for. Are they REALLY offering those services?!?!? I always receive my bill with a note that it due in full upon receipt. They have never gone down the path of trying to establish a payment plan with me. I think that part is bull. Would love to know if others have had different experiences where the hospital offered them information no charity or medical assistance or even a payment plan.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by KathyHowe on 23rd March 2008

  • According to the article - they say no. They say it's a way for them to predict what type of "payer" you'll be and then try to offer you diff't payment plans.

    But, I've been in health care for many, many years and taught medical billing. I've watched the health care crisis with managed health care programs grow from back in the late 80s and I can say this current credit report problem is going to pose a problem for people who are uninsured and/or unemployed and in need of emergency care they can only get at hospitals due to the "no one turned away" law.

    Read the article above and it may become obvious how hospitals will try to justify turning people awayall together or denying certain higher priced procedures if their credit report scores are deemed too low and the hospitals can't find any alternative ways for payment.

    There are lots of pros and cons to this - but to me, mostly cons.

    Let me know what you think after you read the article.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by caramelsugarberry38 on 22nd March 2008

  • So are they going to turn you away if you have bad credit? that does not seem very ethical!!!

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Tiffany on 22nd March 2008


    Here are two articles from Medical News Today and CNN/Wall Street Journal.

    Hospitals are already doing this around the country. It's just now becoming news b/c it's becoming more commonplace in every hospital and hospitals aren't being as forthcoming with patients about what they're doing with your information when they get you to sign financial papers before treatment.

    Please read and let me know what you think.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by caramelsugarberry38 on 22nd March 2008

  • Is that what hospitals WANT to do or is it true they will be allowed to do it? And is for every state? I am curious to read the article.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by KathyHowe on 22nd March 2008