Hospitals and banks team up
This is such a bad idea, imho.
I just read about a new trend in hospitals. They are teaming up with local banks to
strong arm offer healthcare loans to patients in the emergency room or hospital.
I understand why it’s happening. Even patients with health insurance can have huge deductibles. Sometimes thousands of dollars. And with narrower hospital networks, more patients are ending up—not intentionally—out of network and owing enormous amounts of money.
Related post: Are Health Care Loans a good idea?
Hospitals have learned how difficult it is to recover money from patients after they leave the hospital.
Some hospitals already require patients to pay their deductibles upfront before having elective surgery or other expensive treatments.
However, the law prevents them from refusing emergency care to patients if they can’t pay, so that strategy doesn’t work so well in the emergency department.
Why are these loans a bad idea for patients?
Leaving aside the argument that patients should not be asked to make serious financial decisions when they are so vulnerable, the hospital may significantly overestimate the charges. Prices based on a hospital’s chargemaster, a comprehensive master list of billable services, are seriously inflated. Insurance companies never pay those rates, and even self-pay patients can almost always negotiate much lower costs.
Whether you have health insurance or not, don’t be pressured into signing up for one of these quickie healthcare loans! You may end up with a loan you didn’t need, and paying too much for your care.
Related post: Tips to save money at the hospital
What should you do instead?
- If you have insurance, wait for any healthcare charges to work their way through your insurance company.
- Don’t pay the hospital bill until after you’ve compared those charges against your insurance company’s EOB (Explanation of Benefits).
- Always request an itemized statement from the hospital billing department; many hospitals don’t provide one unless asked.
- If you don’t have insurance, be prepared to negotiate prices with the hospital. Ask to speak with a patient financial adviser, or contact an independent medical billing advocate. I’ve added links to my Resources page under Medical Billing Advocates.
Related post: Don’t pay that medical bill too quickly
I’ve written many posts advising patients to never go to the hospital alone.
Having an adult friend or family member at your bedside helps keep you safe. When you are sick or injured you need someone who can listen to the care plan, talk to your care givers, and generally make sure you get the right care at the right time.
Apparently protecting you from financial harm as well needs to be added to their job description. 😐