The Albuquerque-area’s public safety net hospital can no longer demand half upfront from uninsured folks getting medically necessary surgeries as of late last week. But advocates say the hospital has yet to fully put this change into practice.
The University of New Mexico Hospital is ending a policy that required half down before surgery for people without coverage. Local health advocates started receiving complaints from patients this summer.
“People were having their surgeries canceled," Melendez said. "We don’t know how they were getting away with it.”
"It doesn’t help our state at all to single out low-income people who can’t afford insurance," Melendez explained, "and who also can’t qualify for any kind of public assistance and have a different standard of care for those individuals.”
Melendez said the change should have been implemented immediately but she’s still receiving the same calls. UNMH is reverting back to a previous system of asking patients for a small down payment before surgery based on their income and then putting them on a payment plan.
A spokesperson for UNMH said they are still rolling out the new policy and there is a patient advocate available to field questions and complaints.
KUNM’s Public Health New Mexico project is funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the McCune Charitable Foundation.
Editor's Note: This story has been modified to clarify that the surgeries in question are medically necessary.