Prepare to Pay for Your Next Medical Procedure in Advance

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Piggy bank with a surgical mask
Andy Dean Photography /

If you have a future surgery or other procedure planned, prepare to dig into your wallet before you receive care.

In a change from past practice, hospitals and surgery centers are increasingly requiring patients to make large payments before they receive some forms of medical treatment, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal.

Health care providers have made this change because, in the past, they often ended up chasing patients for payment after a procedure or surgery was completed. In some cases, the provider ended up turning to debt collectors to help secure payment.

The journal says health care services that increasingly require upfront payments include:

  • Births
  • Knee replacements
  • CT scans

Typically, advance-payment policies require you to pay some or all of your deductible amount before the procedure or surgery takes place. If you fail to pay, your care might be delayed, the WSJ reports.

This trend actually dates back a few years. In 2018, Consumer Reports noted that upfront payments were becoming more commonplace. At the time, the publication said that advance billing can be a double-edged sword for patients.

On the one hand, paying upfront can sometimes result in a discount for the patient. However, there are instances when patients realize they have been overcharged for the service after the insurance company processes the claim. When this happens, patients often have to spend time haggling with the provider to get a refund.

Paying upfront might feel like a pain and inconvenience, but the practice appears to be growing. As such, it highlights the need to make sure you have some extra cash tucked away in case you suddenly are asked to pay thousands of dollars before you receive a health care service.

For tips on starting to build those savings today, check out “9 Tips for Starting an Emergency Fund Today.”

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