No one likes going the hospital, but it helps to know what you’re getting into. So here’s what you need to know, according to the editors of SmartMoney magazine.
- First, all hospitals aren’t created equal. How can you tell a good hospital? Look for facilities that attract nurses. According to a study by Harvard University professors, patients in hospitals that don’t have enough nurses have more problems – including urinary tract infections, gastrointestinal bleeding, and shock. So how can you find out about the nursing situation at your local hospital? The American Nurses Association’s website lists ‘magnet’ hospitals, which are most attractive to nurses. You can also find out the nurse-to-patient ratio by calling the nursing supervisor.
- Next, know what your hospital’s specialty is. While your medical facility may have been great when you had your kids, they may not be the best place to go when you need open-heart surgery. You’ll want to go to the hospital with the longest track record, best survival rate, and the highest volume in the procedure you’re getting. You can find that information on HealthGrades.com, a site that rates hospitals.
- Another thing hospitals don’t want you to know is that their prices are negotiable. When it comes to your bill, hospitals would rather work with you than to send your bill to collections. That’s because collectors can take up to a fourth of what they collect! To get discounts or discuss payment plans, go to either the office of patient accounts or the financial assistance office. If you’re planning to negotiate a discount, find out how much procedures cost in your area by checking out the website Healthcarebluebook.com. If the hospital agrees to your price, make sure you get it in writing.
- Finally, avoid hospitals in the summer – July especially. At teaching hospitals – think Seattle Grace on Grey’s Anatomy – July is when medical students become interns, interns become residents, and residents become full-fledged doctors. Basically, that means that your doctor could be inexperienced. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, up to 15 more deaths happen in July than in any other month.