“Poor Form”: Patients Worry as More Doctors and Hospitals Demand Payments Up Front

December 14, 2016 | Risk Management News

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Doctors and hospitals are increasingly asking for payment for services up front, a practice that leaves many patients resentful, according to a December 7, 2016, article in U.S. News and World Report. The article said healthcare organizations are often keeping patients' credit card information on file, much in the way a retailer would, in order to obtain up-front payment. The problem, however, is that an up-front payment for a medical procedure can range from a $20 copayment to a deductible of more than $2,000. Such a charge could leave patients financially vulnerable, by forcing them to exceed their credit limit, while, as the article says, "patient health hangs in the balance." Once the patient's credit card is charged, the article said, it can be difficult for the person to contest the charge or claim that it was unjustified. Meanwhile, if a patient informs a doctor of his or her inability to pay up front, the doctor may refuse to dispense care until payment is agreed upon.

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