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No room for patience: Hospitals seeking payments up front

Philadelphia Inquirer, April 7, 2009

Like many hospitals around the country, Abington (PA) Memorial Hospital has started to ask patients for their money up front instead of sending bills later. The effort to reduce billing costs is paying off: Abington collected only 4% of co-payments and deductibles from patients while they were at the hospital during the first eight months of fiscal 2008. It got 20% during that time period this year. Alan Zuckerman, president of Health Strategies & Solutions in Philadelphia, said hospitals have been increasing up-front collections for the last two or three years, with "more acceleration in the last six months."