Jul 7, 2021 - Health

Hospitals charge the uninsured more

The 5th Ave Entrance to the Reading Hospital
he 5th Ave Entrance to the Reading Hospital in Reading, Pa. on April 15, 2021. Photo: Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images

Many hospitals charge uninsured patients higher prices than they've negotiated with insurers for the same services, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Why it matters: These high cash prices often mean that uninsured patients — who are likely to be low-income — have little to no hope of being able to pay their hospital bills.

  • These cash prices are also sometimes paid by insured patients who receive out-of-network care. 
  • The rates were made public only recently as a requirement of new federal price transparency regulations. 

What they're saying: Hospitals "don't want to give away too much of a discount because they really want the best discounts to go to these larger volume negotiated insured rates," Will Fox, an actuary with Milliman, told WSJ.

  • And while hospitals usually offer financial aid, these policies can vary widely and be poorly promoted, per the Journal.
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