Safety-net hospital to make uninsured pay before care

Grady Memorial Hospital to uninsured patients: Pay up before we treat you, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The board of the Atlanta-area safety-net facility approved a policy that would require all patients who live outside Fulton and DeKalb Counties to undergo financial counseling and pay for all treatment in full before receiving it. Fulton and DeKalb support the hospital to the tune of about $65 million a year.

Out-of-region patients represent about 10 percent of its case load and cost Grady Memorial $25 million a year. The hospital is projected to post 2011 losses of $23 million, and at least $13 million in red ink for 2012.

"It's not sustainable financially," board chairman Pete Correll told the Journal-Constitution. "Nobody expects this to be a silver bullet, but it's simply a process we have to start."

The hospital previously charged an income-based sliding-scale fee to out-of-region patients beginning in 2009 and asked them to pay a portion of the fees upfront. After that was collected, few patients paid the remainder, according to hospital officials.

Under the new policy, a non-emergency ER visit could cost as much as $300, while a visit to its walk-in clinic could run $260, notes 11 Alive, an NBC affiliate.

For more information:
- read the Journal-Constitution article
- check out the 11 Alive article

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