How Emergency Rooms are Driving up Health Costs

How Emergency Rooms are Driving up Health Costs

Many individuals find themselves asking the questions “Should I go to urgent care, or the ER?” While it is true that 44-65% of all ER treatments can be handled at an urgent care center, individuals still choose to seek emergency treatment. Almost three-quarters of all ER visits involve patients with insurance coverage yet they are for non-emergency conditions. Urgent care centers are equipped to handle such a variety of issues that only about 3% of patients end up needed true emergency care compared to urgent care. Making the right choice when it comes to ER centers and urgent care centers can also help insurance prices as well. Read below to see how emergency rooms drive up the cost of healthcare for all involved.

Freestanding Emergency Rooms

It seems as though freestanding emergency rooms, 24 hour emergency care centers and emergency centers are popping up everywhere. Knowing the difference between emergency room and urgent care is important when making decisions such as “Should I go to urgent care?” Knowing the price difference between any emergency room and urgent care center can help clear up confusion and offer answers. Freestanding emergency rooms are becoming incredibly popular and drawing in patients left and right, however not without an incredibly steep price tag. These centers typically charge more than other clinics leaving consumers with a heftier bill. While these centers can be convenient for a true life threatening emergency, they are not the place to go for non life threatening matters. When asking yourself “Should I go to urgent care,” consider the condition that is being treated and whether you travel further to reach an urgent care center for treatment.

Emergency Room Pricing

The fact remains that the emergency room is the most expensive place to obtain care. The care provided at an emergency facility is tailored to those who cannot wait and need immediate emergency services. When individuals arrive without a true emergency, not only are they paying much more than they have to for the service, but they stand the chance of having to wait even longer for their care since those who have true emergencies will be seen first. When trying to decide “Should I go to urgent care,” consider what care you may be taking away from those who truly have an emergency and consider the bill you will receive afterwards.

Insurance Pricing

Everyone has seen the incredible jump in insurance prices over the years, and while the finger can be pointed in many directions there is one common factor. Emergency room usage is steadily driving up these costs. Many people with no insurance utilize emergency rooms, and consumers absorb the cost of this, but that’s not all. Insurance co-pays for emergency room use covers some of the cost, but the remaining costs are typically absorbed with higher premiums, higher out of pocket costs, higher deductibles and higher co-pays. When trying to decide “Should I go to urgent care,” consider how your choice will affect your insurance as well as those within your organization using the same insurance.

Hospital Emergency Rooms

Regulations concerning hospital emergency rooms allow them to charge almost whatever they want no matter how ridiculously priced it is. When working with insurance companies there is negotiations where price is concerned, however with emergency room care hospitals typically have the upper hand when it comes to negotiating prices with insurance companies. This means that if immediate care is needed, and the nearest emergency room is not in network, the hospital can charge astronomical fees for using their services, whether it was a true emergency or not.

Chronic Illnesses

Another reason for the increase in health insurance costs can be attributed to increasing chronic illness conditions. Individuals have seen an increase in conditions such as asthma, diabetes and heart conditions. These conditions are not cheap to control nor treat, meaning the costs have to be absorbed somehow, and one of those ways is rising health care costs.

As you can see most conditions can be successfully treated at an urgent care center rather than the ER. Making the right choice can end up with substantially lower costs as well as more tailored treatment.

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