KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

The Ambulance Biz Adds To Health Costs, Do Hospital Observation Services Lower Them?

News outlets examine hospital costs issues.  

The New York Times: Think The E.R. Is Expensive? Look At How Much It Costs To Get There
Kira Milas has no idea who called 911, summoning an ambulance filled with emergency medical technicians. Ms. Milas, 23, was working as a swim instructor for the summer and had swum into the side of the pool, breaking three teeth. A week later she received a bill for the 15-minute trip: $1,772.42. ... Thirty years ago ambulance rides were generally provided free of charge, underwritten by taxpayers as a municipal service or provided by volunteers. Today, like the rest of the health care system in the United States, most ambulance services operate as businesses and contribute to America’s escalating medical bills (Rosenthal, 12/4).

PBS NewsHour: Why Eliminating 'Hospital Purgatories' Would Save Billions of Dollars
Few Americans understand [hospital observation services] or even know they exist. Which is why -- as health care costs continue to climb by the year -- it might come as a shock that these are the very services that could end up saving hospitals billions each year. Put simply, observation services are designed to determine which patients can be safely discharged from the hospital and which should remain for a longer stay (Corapi, 12/4).

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