Financial security is an important social determinant of health, which makes it particularly troubling that the health care system itself is frequently a contributor to financial hardship among families. Hospitals are important anchors in their communities and an integral part of the health care safety net. Despite this, their financial assistance and billing/collection policies frequently exacerbate existing inequities. Data show that Black and brown people and systemically-excluded communities are the most affected by unaffordable health care and medical debt. It is therefore critical that hospitals establish financial assistance policies (FAP) through a racial justice and health equity lens.

We suggest five principles to guide advocacy efforts in campaigns to ensure that hospital policies promote economic security and preserve access to care for all: Equity, Transparency, Affordability, Inclusivity and Accountability. These principles were co-designed with health advocates from more than a dozen organizations in five states.