More hospitals are pushing patients to pay in advance. In some cases it may make sense.

Two days before Katherine Lynch was due to give birth to her daughter, she got a call from the billing department at the hospital where she planned to have the baby. Lynch was asked if she wanted to pay in advance the $1,044 she would owe after insurance picked up the rest.

“I was surprised and annoyed,” says Lynch, 33, a psychologist who lives in Novato, Calif. “I was in grad school at the time. Money was tight.” But she paid because she thought she had to.

Later, when she got an explanation of benefits statement from her insurance company, she realized that she’d overpaid by several hundred dollars. It took multiple phone calls to the hospital for Lynch to get her money refunded.

“It wasn’t easy to find the time to do that with a new baby at home says Lynch.

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