5 Things You Need to Do After an Emergency Room Visit
Americans make millions of emergency room visits every year for conditions ranging from severe to non-urgent. Many hospital admissions stem from ER visits. Emergency rooms are open 24 hours a day, so they are often the most convenient choice when other care options aren’t available.
When you’re experiencing a medical emergency, whether the hospital will accept your insurance plan may be the least of your worries. In fact, many emergency rooms employ freelance physicians who may not accept the same insurance plans as the hospital. While knowing where your insurance is accepted may help you avoid unnecessary costs, it may not be an option.
Many people may find themselves facing unexpected and costly medical bills after an ER visit, so it’s important to know the appropriate steps to take afterward to avoid unwarranted charges.
Plan ahead (When possible)
In the case of non-life-threatening illnesses or injuries, it may be best to choose an urgent care facility rather than an emergency room. Urgent care centers are well-equipped to treat minor cuts, fevers, rashes, infections, and other ailments, and these facilities frequently have shorter wait times and lower costs. Of course, urgent care may not always be an option.
Contact a medical bill advocate
Because emergency room bills can be financially ruinous, especially for uninsured patients, working with a medical bill advocate can prevent drastic consequences. Medical bills are the leading cause of bankruptcies, and ER bills can often be more expensive than other types of care. Medical bill advocates can help ensure you don’t pay more than you need to for care.
Learn about potential discounts
Some states offer reduced pricing for uninsured patients or those who plan to self-pay. Many of these policies apply to patients who are below the federal poverty level. Facilities may even offer upfront cash prices, preventing any future surprises. However, it’s important to be aware of what the discounts cover. Some may only apply to doctor’s fees and ER fees, but not X-rays or lab tests.
Ask for an itemized bill
It’s easy for mistakes to show up on a bill for an ER visit, especially with doctors and nurses handing patients off. Medications that were never administered and procedures that were not performed may show up on the bill. Review medical bills when you receive them to try to identify discrepancies. Asking a primary care physician to look at the bill during a follow-up visit to make sure all the charges make sense.
Talk to the billing department
Conversing with the billing department at the hospital can help you negotiate medical bills upfront. Some hospital billing departments may be willing to set up a payment plan to offset the dramatic financial impacts of an unexpected bill. In general, hospitals would rather avoid patients’ bills being sent to a collection agency.