Shriners Hospitals ends free care for all
Shriners Hospitals for Children Inc (Tampa, FL) will no longer provide free
medical care to children at its 20 U.S. hospitals, effective in the end of
July 2011. Breaking its 89-year record of providing free medical care to
children, Shriners hospitals will begin billing insurance companies and
charging some families co-payments. The change is due to rising healthcare
costs, flat donations and declines in a multi-billion-dollar endowment that
has been ripped apart by the stock market. Families without insurance will
still be covered at no cost, but some families with copays may have to pay.
The federal government will allow Shriners to waive copays and deductibles
for Medicare and Medicaid, which make up about 40 percent of patients. Most
Shriners hospitals now specialize in orthopedic care of muscles, bones and
joints, and also treat spinal cord injuries and cleft lip and palate.