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Hospitals increasingly refusing to perform surgery until full payment. What can patients do?

'If you looked at the financials of most of the hospitals in the United States, it's actually a really scary picture,' Paul Oster says
Posted at 5:33 PM, May 09, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-09 17:41:43-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Many hospitals now require patients to pay upfront for surgeries, according to a new report by the Wall Street Journal.

During these inflationary times, many South Florida residents are living paycheck to paycheck.

"I'm one of those people," Zoe Koval, who lives in West Palm Beach, told WPTV. "I went to college in this area. I have a salary. I have a degree and even that, barely pays what I already have in bills."

WPTV asked Koval what she would do if she had to pay a pricey medical bill in full, upfront.

Zoe Koval is among the residents of South Florida struggling to pay her bills.
Zoe Koval is among the residents of South Florida struggling to pay her bills.

"If I personally had an emergency surgery happen, I don't know what I would do," Koval said.

The new report by the Wall Street Journal revealed that many hospitals and surgery centers are now refusing to perform surgery until they get the full payment.

"If you looked at the financials of most of the hospitals in the United States, it's actually a really scary picture," Paul Oster, a credit repair specialist and founder of Better Qualified, said.

Oster said many hospitals have been operating this way for almost a decade, but now it's becoming more of a trend.

Paul Oster discusses with WPTV consumer investigator Jessica Bruno why more hospitals are requiring up-front payment for surgeries.
Paul Oster discusses with WPTV consumer investigator Jessica Bruno why more hospitals are requiring up-front payment for surgeries.

"If you look at it, about 20% of the people that were polled haven't paid their most recent medical bill, so this is a problem," Oster said. "But this can not all fall on the shoulders of the consumer, especially right now."

WPTV checked with all of the health care systems in South Florida to see if this is happening here and we haven't heard back.

Oster encourages everyone to start prioritizing medical savings, whether you have a health savings account through insurance or you save on your own.

"Consumers have to be very proactive here and plan for it," Oster said.

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