It adds up quite quickly

Saving Money During a Hospital Visit

by Rich Finzer

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Like the airline and banking industries, the healthcare industry is subject to stringent government controls, including Medicare reimbursement rates and other financial requirements. However, this article is not about debating the logic of those restrictions or the rapidly escalating cost of healthcare for all Americans. Like everything else I write, it's about saving money.

Hospitals also face additional financial pressures as their treatment rates/charges are often government regulated as well. Being squeezed financially from both sides of the ledger, hospitals have been forced to come up with a few subtle revenue generators. I witnessed a trio of these tactics during a very recent one-week hospitalization and successfully avoided all of these insidious little charges.

Information: My semi-private room was outfitted with a pair of television sets. To fire up the one facing my bed, the daily rental cost was a not-so-cool $8 per day. I could have spent $56 to watch the same three crummy local stations I can watch for free at home. I opted instead for a simple clock-radio, which my wife brought me from home. And, radio has one huge advantage over TV; you can close your eyes and still listen to the radio!

Transportation: Walking barefoot through the ward was obviously verboten, but for $5, I could have purchased a misshapen, one-size-fits-nobody pair of "sock-like" foot coverings. Each appeared to be fashioned from recycled dryer lint and possessed a life span of roughly one day. My wife brought me a couple pairs of my own socks and my trusty bedroom slippers, and I saved another $35.

Carbonation: For washing down pills, the hospital always provided iced water, but if I wanted a can of the "real thing," I had to order and purchase it through the cafeteria. Those folks were all too happy to nick me $2 for a diminutive eight-ounce can of my favorite cola. Fortunately, the "War Department" rode to the rescue with 12-ounce cans from home. Poured over the ice I'd saved, each time I drank one, I not only saved $1.50, but I also enjoyed 50 percent more cola!

With the exception of having a baby, no one looks forward to a hospital visit. So while your body is being healed, don't let sneaky charges eat away at your wallet like a new form of cancer.

Reviewed August 2017

Rich Finzer resides in upstate New York. During his 43 years as a writer, he has published over 1,000 newspaper, magazine, and Internet articles. His first book Maple on Tap is currently available through his publisher ACRES USA. His novel Taking the Tracks is available through

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