The thought of visiting an Emergency Room (ER) is frightening. You go into an ER feeling unwell, and you come out of it with a diagnosis of your illness along with a hefty medical bill.
Research from John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health shows that the ER visits are overly charged, 13 times more, as compared to Medicare charges for a similar service. The cost of emergency room services is increasing every year.
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Why High Costs?
The total bill of the ER visit may depend on several factors. It may include the doctorâ€™s fee, diagnosis, and test carried out, the drugs prescribed, and any procedures carried out during the healthcare service.
The average cost of ER services also depends on if you have health insurance. If your insurance does not cover ER costs, then you must be ready to pay an outrageous amount even if your visit is for a mere diagnosis.
If your insurance covers the ER costs, then any visit to an ER should cost you somewhere around $50-$150. However, if you, like many Americans, havenâ€™t got an insurance cover, then the same service could cost you thousands of dollars depending on what kind of treatment you receive.
In most cases â€“ if tests are run and critical procedures are carried out â€“ you may get a bill of up to $20000. Moreover, a call for an ambulance or air ambulance can push the ER costs up.
Average Emergency Room Costs
With every visit to the ER, a patient is charged a facility fee. It is the fee the ER clinics charge for just being there at the time of need. ER facilities believe that since they are available at that time to treat a minor or a major illness, they deserve to add a price tag to it.
ER visits have a grading scale starting from 1 to 5. Grade 1 refers to the least complex treatment given to the patient, while grade 5 visits would mean that the treatment was critical.
An ER visit for a viral infection or a skin allergy is considered a low-level visit and can cost $150 to a person who does not have health insurance. A moderate level visit to the ER would cost around $400, which can be related to a head injury or an infection accompanied by fever.
Grade 5 level ER visit would be considered high-level. It will most likely cost the patient $1000 to $2000 and could be a visit for burns, chest pain, or ingesting a highly toxic substance. It includes the cost of diagnosis, emergency treatment, and drugs.
In case youâ€™re uncertain about the charges of the ER facilities in your area, it is recommended first to make a quick Google search like â€œER services near me.â€ It will provide you with the details of all the ER services near you. It can also give you a cost estimate for your visit.
Does ER Cost Differ From Facility To Facility?
Yes, it does significantly!
Some ER facilities may charge a few hundred dollars, while others may hand you a bill of thousand dollars for the same type of healthcare facility. Any patient would find out the facility fee of their hospital once they get hold of the bills.
Patients are mostly unaware of the facility fee breakup and how it is split between other patients. All they are told is that it is the cost of running the ER facility for the convenience of the affected people.
What To Expect?
If you have health insurance, then your insurance company pays your healthcare bill as per the insurance policy. However, ER tariffs are not projected to go down in the future, especially for people who donâ€™t have insured healthcare.
Some hospitals continue to outsource their emergency care facilities due to the rising cost and budget constraints. When outsourced, these services arenâ€™t billed according to the hospitalâ€™s procedure and rules, which might lead to exorbitant billing.
According to a report by the New York Times, after Newport Hospital in Washington outsourced its emergency room, almost 28 percent of patients were billed for the most expensive level of care possible.
What Must You Know?
If your earnings are low and you have received a hefty healthcare bill, then what are your options?
There are possibilities for low ER tariffs, which include healthcare charges partly covered by the state you reside in. You can check for eligibility by declaring your income on a government website or visit the respective government office.
Not only this, but some ER services also offer a discount of up to 50 percent and financial assistance to low-income patients. You may also benefit from the services of a financial counselor at the ER facility to choose the best option for you. They may even come up with an exclusive payment plan considering your situation.
Emergency needs can arise at any time. To be prudent, you should not wait for an emergency to strike. Stay prepared. Be proactive. Find the nearest emergency facility that is affordable and provides great care in times of need. You never know when and how you might need to rush in.
Featured image source: Freepik