KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Patients Focus On High Cost Of ER Care

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports on the high cost of emergency room visits and "a changing health-care world, in which patients must think more like accountants and also like doctors. Make the right decision, and you could save thousands of dollars. Choose wrong, particularly about the ER, and you could lose your life. 'It is a dilemma for an average person: What is a real emergency?' said Martin Rosen, executive vice president of Health Advocate Inc. in Plymouth Meeting, which helps patients with medical or billing issues. Rosen deals with a lot of money disputes. The most common, he said, involve insurers' denials of coverage for treatments that are considered 'experimental' or simply aren't included, and caps on durable medical equipment and other coverage. Other complaints involve new types of policies that seek to save money for patients, employers, and, ultimately, the health-care system."

"By giving people more of a stake in how money is spent - partly through structures that make them think of it as their money - these plans encourage them to factor price into routine choices: A generic vs. brand-name drug? An ER visit vs. trying an urgent-care center vs. waiting to see the family doctor?" While some patients complain about high costs, ERs often don't usually make much profit because of the high cost of running them, according to health care economist Guy David (Sapatkin, 4/12). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.