Hospitals’ New Strategy: Pay Before You Stay

May 28, 2024

As health care costs continue to rise, hospitals across the United States are adopting a controversial strategy: requiring patients to pay for treatments upfront. This policy shift aims to curb the growing issue of unpaid medical bills but is raising significant concerns about access to care.

Many hospitals are now asking patients to cover a portion or all of their treatment costs before services are rendered, particularly for non-emergency procedures. This approach is designed to benefit the bottom line for hospitals but adds financial strain for people on high-deductible insurance plans and the uninsured. According to Fierce Healthcare, some hospitals offer no-interest loans and early payment discounts to help patients manage these upfront costs​.

However, this policy is not without criticism. Patient advocates argue that requiring upfront payments can deter individuals from seeking necessary care, especially those who are already financially vulnerable. As highlighted by experts, this practice can lead to delays in treatment and potentially worsen health outcomes. For instance, patients may choose to postpone essential procedures or avoid filling prescriptions, resulting in more severe and expensive medical issues down the line​.

Have you been asked to pay before a hospital visit? Did it deter you from seeking treatment? Share your story with Voices for Affordable Health.