Baystate Health adopts cashless payment system

Baystate Health, including the cafeteria at Baystate Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield, went cashless as of Oct. 1.

Baystate Health, including the cafeteria at Baystate Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield, went cashless as of Oct. 1. STAFF PHOTO/DOMENIC POLI

Although Baystate Health went cashless as of Oct. 1, gift shops, like this one at Baystate Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield, are managed outside the organization and will continue to accept cash.

Although Baystate Health went cashless as of Oct. 1, gift shops, like this one at Baystate Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield, are managed outside the organization and will continue to accept cash. FILE PHOTO

By DOMENIC POLI

Staff Writer

Published: 11-12-2023 2:21 PM

GREENFIELD — Baystate Health adopted a cashless payment system as of Oct. 1, adding itself to a list of entities embracing a growing worldwide shift.

The transition will be more cost- and time-efficient than accepting and handling cash, according to information from Baystate Health Public Relations Manager Heather Duggan. Going cashless reportedly reduces wait time and eliminates the need to maintain cash balances at various locations. There will also be at least $150,000 in savings associated with the elimination of bank fees and with no longer requiring armored car and courier services for cash deposits.

“In the years prior to the pandemic, the volume of cash collections at Baystate Health was declining year over year,” according to the health care system. “Post-pandemic volumes have decreased even further and at current levels it no longer makes good sense to continue to accept cash as form of payment.”

Debit and credit cards and personal checks will continue to be accepted. Baystate Health, which includes five hospitals and at least 80 medical practices, emphasizes that no patient will be turned away from care due to lacking one of these forms of payment. Arrangements will be made to complete a payment after care is delivered.

Baystate Health gift shops, which are managed outside the organization and generate funds for the hospitals, will continue to accept cash. Fundraising events held by the Baystate Health Foundation — which also raises money to support the network’s hospitals, programs and services — will go cashless starting on Jan. 1, 2024.

But Turners Falls resident Betty Tegel, who advocates for the elderly and people with disabilities, said she has filed a complaint with Baystate Health over what she feels are discriminatory practices. She argues that going cashless disenfranchises low-income patients and their families who don’t have debit or credit cards. She said this transition could be particularly frustrating for people who need to visit a hospital cafeteria before or after an appointment.

“How come [for] even a small purchase of under $5 you can’t use cash?” Tegel said. “What if an elder goes in with a companion and neither one has a credit card?”

According to information from Baystate Health, it is evaluating options for low-dollar-amount purchases, such as a cup of coffee. Patients who do not have cash or any other form of payment can contact the Patient Billing Services Department at 413-794-9999 or toll free at 877-461-1931 to arrange payment via money order.

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Anyone with questions about Baystate Health’s transition to cashless should contact Joanne Tremblay at joanne.tremblay@baystatehealth.org.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or
413-930-4120.