Some emergency rooms may start charging at least partial fees prior to administering care, and healthcare professionals cannot agree whether the new fees are ethical -- or even necessary. Although the average emergency room bill can be as high as $1,500, patients may soon be expected to pay an additional $150. What explains these extra charges?
Is It Fair To Ask Patients To Pay Upfront?
A man passed away in a New York City hospital, after waiting more than eight hours for emergency care. Friends and family will have to wait for the autopsy to understand why John Verrier, 30, died from a rash, and possibly other untreated symptoms. Unfortunately, Verrier's case is not entirely unheard of -- and a troubling number of patients die while waiting in overcrowded emergency rooms.
For that reason, hospitals all over the U.S. may start charging upfront fees prior to treatment. Unless doctors discover a true medical emergency during a legally mandated medical exam, patients will have to pay at least $150 before receiving medications or care. Hospitals will make reasonable exceptions to this policy; pregnant women, children under age six, and the elderly are not subject to these fees. Hospitals and doctors hope these changes will curb crowding, and save medical facilities and patients thousands of dollars.
The Woman Who Had A Heart Attack And Didn't Know It
While a considerable number of doctors believe the motion will save money and lives, other healthcare professionals are not sold on the idea -- and fear it may even be dangerous. The fees may, in some cases, discourage patients who need immediate, emergency attention from seeking it, some doctors argue. That's exactly what happened in the case of one New Jersey woman. The woman, in her early 40s, was reasonably fit and healthy, causing her and her husband to dismiss the possibility of a heart attack. She was ultimately moved from a family health clinic or after hours urgent care center to the emergency room.
While family care providers, low cost health clinics, and medical walk in clinics are more than qualified to treat some semi-serious conditions, including lacerations and sprains, American Family Care the importance of going to the ER with any possible heart attack symptoms. (The woman in question had chest pains and the telltale numbness in her arm.) Urgent care facilities, for example, can treat the estimated 6.8 million broken bones per year, with clinic bills amounting to an average of $150. Twenty-nine percent of primary care doctors or family health clinics also hold nontraditional, late-night hours.
Don't take unnecessary risks. Help save lives by knowing when it is appropriate to go to your local family health clinic. Do not, under any circumstances, take chances with possible heart attack symptoms.