Why Emergency Room Visits Are So Expensive

Why Emergency Room Visits Are So Expensive

Millions of Americans who visit emergency rooms every year get surprised at the high fees they are required to pay. Compared to a visit to a local clinic, you are likely to pay three times more when you visit an emergency room. A recurring question in many people’s minds is why emergency rooms charge so highly for even the most trivial operations. Well, to understand how the charge is so astronomical, here are a few things to keep in mind:

Cost Shifting

Millions of Americans are uninsured, yet they are still entitled to emergency care benefits whenever they need it. Many of the uninsured are the underprivileged in the society and are unable to pay their bills as a result of being unemployed, underpaid, orphaned, aged, and so on. To cater for the cost of those that cannot afford a health insurance cover, emergency rooms charge those that are already insured an extra amount over and above their bills. For this reason, the bill seems higher than you would expect.

Emergency rooms charge for everything

Every last resource you use at an emergency room, from an aspirin to the syringe, will be charged on your bill. Add that to the services you use, and a trip to the emergency room using the ambulance and the bill comes to a tidy sum. And don’t forget that the emergency room is constantly kept ready to handle emergency cases 24 hours every day. If you use the services of different departments of the same hospital, remember that every department will bill you separately, which is why you are likely to have many quotations even when you visit the same hospital. When these quotations are totaled, they may add up to a large sum.

Some levels of care attract a hefty bill

Many emergency rooms provide several levels of care, with each level attracting a different bill for the services offered at that level. For instance, you will pay less for having your earache addressed as you would for having a stroke. However, since the staff is always ready to serve you even when you are coming in for a minor issue, you will still pay a considerably higher amount so as to offset the cost of more complicated problems, especially if more people are coming in for less expensive treatments.

Different parties are involved in the billing process

One of the reasons you have a significantly high bill for emergency room services is that your provider, the hospital, and your insurance are interested parties in the billing process. The emergency room must come up with a figure that is higher than would have been the case since the insurance will bargain for a much less bill. Here’s an illustration: let’s assume your hospital charges you $6500, your health insurer might be willing to give only $700! Insurance companies are experts at bargaining, so don’t be shocked if you end up paying $1000 for the same bill. And that’s not all; your insurance will still want a slice of the $1000 depending on what is stipulated in your agreement with them as a repayment.

The costs of running an emergency room are high

A lot of the costs that an emergency room incurs are administrative, and these may be astronomical. There are many billing clerks and other hospital personnel in the emergency rooms that are always on the standby for emergency cases. The doctors are highly trained and experienced to handle emergency cases. Add this to the high-tech equipment and modern facilities in many emergency rooms, and the cost of simply running the facility becomes apparently high. This cost is eventually reflected in your health bill, whether you have visited the room with a life-threatening condition or you needed merely a few stitches.

Some of the drugs are very expensive

Some of the cases treated in emergency rooms, such as stroke, require very expensive drugs. In many cases, those that visit the ER with these cases are unable to pay for them. To cater for these bills, emergency rooms have to transfer a percentage of the costs to the bills of those that can afford to pay, hence making a visit to the emergency room becomes rather expensive.

The bill is covered by your insurance cover.

The reason for the inflated prices of emergency room services is that the insurance provider will foot the bill. For this reason, even simple drugs such as aspirin may be charged at well over $20 for one pill while an entire bottle of them costs less than a quarter of that at a drugstore.

What should you do?

The fact that the emergency room services are costlier than those provided in other medical facilities cannot be disputed, but you need not be overly worried. Some emergency rooms in America are more willing to take care of your health at a cost that is friendly. Bellaire ER has for years provided Houston residents high-quality emergency services at very friendly rates.  A good emergency room should be able to offer prompt health care when required just like Bellaire ER, have no waiting time. In many emergency situations, immediate attendance may make the difference between life and death.