Hospitals requiring upfront cash payments

Of late, a growing number of hospitals--including not-for-profits--have been insisting on cash payments before they offer services to non-emergency patients. While it may not generate the best PR, it's a matter of survival, hospitals say. Uncompensated care has been flattening hospitals nationwide, with the burden climbing 44 percent in 2006, to $31.2 billion, from $21.6 billion in 2000. Hospitals are being sapped by care for growing numbers of uninsured patients, and say that unless they get tough on patients with some means, some of them simply won't survive. However, such a strategy can rebound when not-for-profits take this stand. For example, this week the Wall Street Journal brought some unflattering attention to the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, which in late 2006 asked a leukemia patient for $105,000 up front because it wasn't satisfied with her insurance coverage.

To learn more about this trend:
- read this Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report item

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