A lot of people who don’t have health insurance worry about getting hit with huge bills if they go to the hospital. Most consumers probably don’t realize that many hospitals are supposed to let you know if you qualify for free or reduced-price care--and charge you fairly, even if you don’t have insurance.
But a recent study found that less than half of nonprofit hospitals surveyed were telling patients they could be eligible for charity care.
There are nearly 3,000 community hospitals in the United States that qualify for tax-free nonprofit status. In return for that tax break—worth $25 billion in 2011 —hospitals are supposed tell the Internal Revenue Service each year how much care they write off for those who can’t pay.