The first step in choosing the proper hospital is determining how you are going to pay for your medical care. Hospital stays average tens of thousands of dollars. Make sure that your health insurance provider will pay for your treatment at a specific hospital. If you’re having a scheduled procedure, most insurers require that you get pre-approval to guarantee that the hospital bill will be paid.
For emergency care, the same consideration needs to be made. Choose a health plan that will cover treatment at the hospital of your choice. Although it is true that no U.S. hospital can deny you treatment for lack of insurance, it’s also true that someone has to pay for that treatment. You might get admitted to an emergency room for a broken leg and next month receive a bill for a $700 X-ray, a $1,000 ER fee, $2,000 for the resident and $500 for pain medication. Just because you must be treated by law, it doesn’t mean you’ll be treated for free.
Ask friends and family about hospitals in your area. Everyone’s experience is different, but you’ll get a good idea of what a hospital is like by surveying answers about the hospital staff’s attitude, the comfort of the rooms and the quality of food in patient rooms as well as the cafeteria.
Compare the quality of care in a particular hospital with others in the same area. Review many factors before making your hospital decision. A good place to begin is at the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Hospital Compare website. This is where people can see how hospitals compare to one another on a statewide or national basis pertaining to a specific illness or treatment.
Check hospital accreditation with the Joint Commission which has been accrediting hospitals for more than 50 years. This organization is a non-profit, independent group that certifies more than 15,000 health care organizations in the United States. This accreditation is recognized nationally to guarantee a hospitals commitment to meeting high standards for performance.
Make sure the hospital of your choice has experience with your condition, whether you are having a baby or need open heart surgery. Various hospitals have reputations for treating specific illnesses. Quantity is not an indication of quality, but it’s always good to go to a hospital that has the most experience treating your condition, especially if it is serious or rare.
Make sure your doctor or specialist has privileges at the hospital of your choice. If you go to a hospital where your doctor is not allowed to practice, you will be under the care of a different doctor, not your own.
Choosing the right hospital can mean the difference between life and death. Take time to accurately assess your needs and determine which institution will provide the best care for your particular condition. Plan ahead so you are not faced with choosing a hospital in an emergency situation. When a crisis arises, you will have already resolved the issue of which hospital is best for you.
The Joint Commission, One Renaissance Blvd, Oakbrook Terrace, IL 60181, 630-792-5000
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 200 Independence Ave, SW, Washington, DC