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MARKETPLACE: Rx for high price of hospital TV?

The price of getting TV in a hospital room is too damned high, Marketplace discovered. GETTY

The price of getting TV in a hospital room is too damned high, Marketplace discovered. GETTY

Being stuck in the hospital for an extended stay isn't what anyone wants to face.

But the high cost of hospital TV services can, for some, add insult to injury, making a long stay not just physically draining, but financially draining as well.

CBC Marketplace looked into hospital TV rates across the country and found they varied widely.

In some hospitals, TV can cost you $8 a day. In others, Marketplace found it was bundled in a package that cost more than double that: more than $17 a day.

Some hospitals offer discounts for weekly or monthly service for longer-term patients, if you don't know how long you're going to be there, those bills can add up, with some asking if the bills amount to a tax on the sick.

If you're paying close to $17 a day, and end up being in hospital for a month, that can cost you more than $500.

And if you sign up for a monthly plan and end up leaving early, you may be out of luck. Same problem if you end up staying longer and want the time you've spent to be charged at a cheaper weekly or monthly rate. So why the high price? Hospitals frequently contract with private companies to manage their TV services. Which means that depending on the deal, the equipment and the service, costs can vary.

Factor in the profit to the company - and to the hospital - and you can end up paying a lot more than you're used to spending on cable.

TV service is not the only cost you can be on the hook for if you get sick.

Ambulance fees are often not covered by most government health plans, and range dramatically from province to province. Most patients in Ontario pay only $45; in parts of Manitoba, those bills can cost you $500.

Parking fees are another cost that can add up. A 2013 Marketplace report found many Canadians are missing hospital appointments and experiencing added stress due to the costs of parking at their local health centre.

When it comes to hospital TV, be careful what you sign up for, and read the fine print before you opt-in to a paid TV service. And, of course, get better soon. Watch the CBC Marketplace investigation on hospital TV, including an update about the Niagara Falls tourism fee, starting tonight at 8:00 p.m. on TV and online.