Emergency room bills can leave Americans in crippling amounts of debt, and some hospitals may even start charging upfront fees for routine or non-life-threatening care. Although emergency room bills can amount to tens of thousands of dollars, that is not enough to deter Americans from crowding into ERs with common injuries and ailments. Doctors and staff in the Hospital Corporation of American-owned (HCA) ERs hope upfront fees will make the difference that other efforts have not.
Is Charging Upfront Fees Legal? Is It Ethical?
Charging for treatment at the ER is legal. (Keep in mind that upfront charges — starting at $150 — do not apply to pregnant women, children under age 6, and aging Americans 65 and up.) Emergency departments are legally required to provide a medical screening — and a medical screening only. Once doctors determine that patients do not have a life-threatening injury or illness, hospitals are then asking for an immediate payment to cover any treatment or care.
The bigger question — is it ethical? — is much more difficult to answer. Doctors and healthcare professionals do not agree. Some doctors fear the charges may prevent patients from getting care altogether, which could be especially problematic in the event of an largely asymptomatic condition that develops over time. Others believe that the motion will mutually benefit doctors and patients. “These practices help reduce costs for both the patient and the hospital. We think this is appropriate, given that some people use the ER in a way it was not intended: as a source for routine care,” healthcare professional John Merriweather continues.
Doctors Emphasize: Patients Do Have Somewhere Else To Go!
Healthcare professionals want to make it perfectly clear — patients with routine illnesses and injuries do have somewhere else to go, even when traditional doctors’ offices are closed. Urgent care centers and walk in medical clinics are open late nights, weekends, and even on holidays. Moreover, urgent care costs are often significantly cheaper than ER bills. Urgent care costs average out to just $71 to $125, according to The Atlantic.
Charging upfront fees at the ER is legal — and many doctors are hoping it’ll help reduce debts and prevent other serious problems, such as ER overcrowding, too. Read this website for more information: doctorsexpressphoenix.com