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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.

Go deeper

Oct 13, 2021 - Podcasts

Philanthropy aids in poverty decline

In 2020, the U.S. poverty rate declined as a result of stimulus checks and unemployment aid. What also helped the decline? There was an increase in cash programs from charities. Could “cash-in-hand” be a long-term solution to end poverty?

Axios Re:Cap talks with Axios’ future correspondent Bryan Walsh on how philanthropic organizations are using cash assistance and what cash can’t fix.

Oct 15, 2021 - Health

Maine health care staff won't get unemployment benefits if they refuse vaccine

A pharmacy technicinan specialist at Maine Medical Center in South Portland, Maine. Photo: Derek Davis/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

Maine health care workers who face firing for defying COVID vaccine requirements will not be eligible to receive unemployment benefits, AP reports.

Why it matters: The notice comes as Maine's hospitals suffer labor shortages partly related to the state's vaccine mandate. One of the state's biggest hospitals has had to turn away trauma and pediatric patients and shutter an entire department, according to a local CBS affiliate.

2 hours ago - Health

FDA authorizes mix-and-match for COVID booster shots

Photo: Francine Orr/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) on Wednesday gave its approval for Americans to get booster shots that are different from the COVID vaccine they initially received.

Why it matters: The recommendation from the FDA, which also authorized booster shots for people who received Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines on Wednesday, paves the way for an expansion of booster shots.