Patients face numerous administrative barriers to get financial help information from hospitals according to a “secret shopper” study from the USC Schaeffer Center for Health Policy & Economics. While more than 86% of hospitals contacted offer financial assistance to insured patients for non-emergency procedures, roughly half of those hospitals (46%) will not notify patients of their approval for assistance until after the service.

Researchers called a random sample of 249 hospitals, posing as underinsured patients seeking financial options to pay for a knee endoscopy, and found that 18% of hospitals could not be reached after three phone call attempts.  The study, published in Health Affairs Scholar, aims to shed light on the real-world difficulties for patients financially planning for their care.

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