What if you had to pay a fee just to get through the hospital door, whether as a patient or family member? Outrageous? Of course. But for many patients and families, that’s exactly what happens. It comes in the form of high parking costs which just about every healthcare facility charges whenever they can.
Hospital parking is a deterrent to the ability of families to provide the care and attention patients need and the healthcare system expects of them. In major urban centers, where parking fees approach $30 a day, the cost to families can easily mount into hundreds, and even thousands, of dollars. When harm from avoidable medical errors occurs and longer stays result, hospital budgets benefit from the added revenues. That’s unconscionable.
Yet that’s what happened to Kathleen Finlay, The Center for Patient Protection’s founder, when her mother was hospitalized for several months after medical errors prolonged her stay. The total cost for the on-site hospital parking in that case was more than $2,000.
Parking fees don’t always make their way back into patient care. Sometimes the money just goes back into, well, parking and parking maintenance, building upgrades and expansion. Some patients and families have managed to wage a strong campaign to abolish what amounts to a tax-at-the-door on hospital services. In Scotland, all hospital parking fees were eliminated through a law passed in 2008.
The Center for Patient Protection regularly hears from patients and families who report how much the cost of parking has added to their already high level of stress or has actually deterred families from delivering the bedside support a loved one needs. We call for the eventual elimination of parking fees which constitute a not-so-hidden tax on the delivery of health care. Until that occurs, we strongly urge that providers waive parking fees for patients and families facing financial hardship. In cases where avoidable harm has occurred, and longer stays have resulted, hospitals should immediately move to reimburse families for their parking expenses and waive any further charges.
Honk if you support our proposal!