Should Hospitals Charge for Parking?

Parking fees are not universal across all U.S. hospitals, but where they do exist, patients have displayed increasing levels of dissatisfaction.

At UNC Health Care in Chapel Hill, N.C., one patient's husband is expected to be an inpatient for two months due to chemotherapy treatments. According to a News & Observer report, the 70-year-old patient will have to pay $8 per day, or $500 total during that time, to visit her husband.

"I'm almost 70 years old, and I can't afford to pay $500," the patient told the News & Observer. "Cancer's a big money maker for the hospital. So why don't they give the patients a little bit of a break on the parking?"

Comparatively, nearby Duke University Hospital in Durham, N.C., has parking for $6 per day, but it offers a 10-day discount for $25 total.

The University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics recently lowered its maximum daily parking rate from $18 to $10, which officials said was comparable to other Midwest academic medical centers, after patients lodged complaints, according to a Des Moines Register report.

Numerous other hospitals, especially those affiliated with universities, have their own parking fees. At Northwest Hospital & Medical Center in Seattle, part of University of Washington Medicine, parking rates range from free (if the stay is 30 minutes or less or if the stay occurs on a weekend) to $28 for an all-weekday pass. Stanford Hospital & Clinics in Palo Alto, Calif., has a $12 daily maximum for its visitor garage.

However, not all hospitals charge a fee, especially those located in more suburban or rural areas. For example, Edward Hospital & Health Services in Naperville, Ill., a suburb of Chicago, has free parking and free valet service.

Like UIHC, some systems are altering their parking policies to better accommodate and satisfy their patients. This past fall, Lurie Children's Hospital in Chicago handed out passes for free parking, through a nonprofit foundation, for families who had babies in the neonatal intensive care unit, according to a Chicago Tribune report.

More Articles on Hospital Finance:
The True Cost of Care: How the University of Utah Pursues Value-Driven Outcomes
Connecticut AG Asks for Hospital Facility Fee Information
Getting Rid of the Financial Guessing Game: Benefits of Providing the Cost of Care Up Front

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