Skip to Content
Pointer Clicker is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Read more.

Do You Have To Pay for TV in the Hospital?

Do You Have To Pay for TV in the Hospital?

Sharing is caring!

So, you’ve found yourself in the hospital.

The IV needle is annoying, the smell is sickly, and you’re getting tired of being poked and prodded every few hours.

At the very least, you can watch some TV, right?

You go to turn the TV on and are shocked to discover the hospital is asking you to pay to watch TV!

Are the meds kicking in and making you hallucinate? Is the hospital really making their vulnerable patients dish out extra cash to watch the evening news?

Do you really have to pay for TV in the hospital? Is there a way to watch hospital TV for free?

Keep reading to find out!

Do You Have To Pay for TV in the Hospital?

Yes, many hospitals make you pay to watch TV.

While every hospital’s policies will be different, many hospitals will make you pay to watch TV.

a man counting money

Some hospitals will have a set number of hours a day where TV is free, while others will make you pay for the TV from the moment you turn it on.

This extra fee will be added to your final hospital bill or sent to you separately.

Many hospitals also have different payment tiers which will give you access to more channels and streaming options.

Why Is Hospital TV Expensive?

There are a few reasons why hospitals charge so much for TV.

Though many patients argue that TV at hospitals should be free, or at the least more affordable, hospitals claim that the TV must be expensive for several reasons.

Hospital TV’s Operating System is Specifically Calibrated for Patients

Hospital TVs must be able to cater to a wide array of patients, from the young and more tech-savvy to the elderly and impaired.

To make the TVs as easy to use as possible and avoid patients wasting the nurses’ time by asking them how to operate these machines, a hospital TV’s interface must be clear and easy to navigate.

a patient waves to a doctor in TV

This means that any apps or options must be clearly labeled with big lettering for the visually impaired. There must also be fewer options to avoid confusing the patients.

Hospitals must also ensure that patients will not stumble across any inappropriate channels, so hospital TVs have been tailored to only show family-friendly content.

Many hospital TVs also have the option to block certain settings, like the volume, so that patients will not annoy their fellow inpatients by playing their favorite show at maximum volume in the middle of the night.

Hospital TVs Have More Options for Patients

Hospital TVs often have more options than regular TVs.

For instance, many hospital TVs will feature both cable TV and streaming apps.

This caters to a wider audience since older patients may want to watch cable news, while young patients are more likely to want to watch content on streaming services, like Netflix.

The simple interface allows patients to understand their options and select which one they want, without any help from the busy hospital staff.

a patient adjusts the TV in the hospital room

Because the TVs have these services, hospitals charge more for them since they pay for the cable subscription and interface that allows you to open streaming apps.

They also pay for the high-speed internet connection to the TV, which allows you to stream content in HD.

In reality, hospitals are making you pay for convenience since these TVs are already set up for you and there’s little to do in hospitals besides watch TV.

Hospital TVs are Built Differently From Other TVs

If you’ve ever seen a hospital TV, you’ve probably noticed that it looks a little different from the TV you have at home.

Hospital TVs are specifically designed to be used in a sanitary environment with high-risk patients.

While you should never use disinfectant wipes on your TV at home, hospital TVs are more durable and can be disinfected with harsh chemicals without damaging the screen.

special TVs at the waiting room of a hospital

They often have touch-pad buttons which are easy to clean and don’t take a lot of hand strength to press for weak-handed patients.

The TVs do not have sharp corners to prevent the patients from hurting themselves should they hit their heads on them.

Some hospital TVs also have other handy features, like pillow speaker control, which allows patients to listen to the TV through a speaker placed next to their head.

They must also be smaller to accommodate the hospital’s small rooms and to save space.

All of these design features make hospital TVs considerably more expensive than normal TVs, and hospitals try to make a profit from them by charging their patients high prices to use them.

Can I Get the Hospital TV for Free?

Few hospitals are giving patients access to free TV.

While most hospitals require you to pay for TV, a select few are beginning to offer it for free.

More specifically, some hospitals in Scotland will begin letting patients watch TV free of charge.

However, if you’re in a hospital that pay-blocks their TV, you’ll either need to pay for it or stream content on your computer or phone.

Though depending on the hospital you’re staying in, you may also have to pay for Wi-Fi.

The best bet for getting free TV is looking over your roommate’s shoulder at their TV, though you’ll be stuck watching whatever channel they flip to.

Wrapping Things Up

Depending on where you live, you may have to pay the hospital a large sum of money for the care they provided to you, so why isn’t TV included in the cost?

The fact of the matter is that hospitals in some countries, like the United States, are privately owned businesses whose main goal is to generate revenue. Charging patients for TV is just another way to generate income.

If you’re in the hospital and don’t want to pay for overpriced TV, try watching content on your laptop, phone, or tablet instead. It’s not the same, but it could save you hundreds of dollars.

What’s your experience with hospital TVs? Do you think hospitals overcharge patients for TV access?

Let us know in the comments below! (And get well soon!)

Sharing is caring!


Sunday 19th of February 2023

It has cost me over £800 in the last 4 months for hospital tv which is a complete rip off. Why is it not half price or free. I pay £19.90 every 3 days. I could have bought a tv license x amount of times over. It's daylights robbery. Especially if you are in hospital for a long time.