The Cost Of Unwarranted ER Visits: $32 Billion A Year
A trip to the emergency room is on average 12 times higher than being treated at a physician's office for common ailments, an analysis from UnitedHealth Group found. The claims data showed ailments frequently treated in the emergency room include cough, bronchitis, headache, sore throat, nausea and upper respiratory infection, which may not actually need emergency care.
Unneeded ER Visits Cost Nation's Healthcare $32 Billion Last Year
At the heart of the findings are some staggering price differences. For instance, a trip to the emergency room is on average 12 times higher than being treated at a physician's office for common ailments. That translates to $2,032 on average compared to $167. That same trip is also 10 times higher than a visit to urgent care, which on average costs $193. This can be a crucial difference in Texas, where patients continue to be confused between urgent care clinics and the states' hundreds of free-standing emergency rooms, health analysts say. (Deam, 7/24)
U.S. News & World Report:
‘Avoidable’ ER Visits Fuel U.S. Health Care Costs
And while the poor and uninsured may be unable to afford or without access to a primary care doctor, the analysis by the health insurer of its own data and claims found that of 27 million emergency department visits annually by patients with private insurance, two-thirds are "avoidable" and "not an actual emergency." The average cost of such visits for common conditions that could have been remedied through primary care tops $2,000.The problem: an inconvenient and perhaps outdated primary care delivery system that's not always open or accessible when people need immediate treatment. (Williams, 7/22)
In other news on health costs —
Kaiser Health News:
First Kidney Failure, Then A $540,842 Bill For Dialysis
For months, Sovereign Valentine had been feeling progressively run-down. The 50-year-old personal trainer, who goes by “Sov,” tried changing his workout and diet to no avail. Finally, one Sunday, he drove himself to the hospital in the small town of Plains, Mont., where his wife, Jessica, happened to be the physician on call. “I couldn’t stop throwing up. I was just toxic.” (Gold, 7/25)
Kaiser Health News:
Your Go-To Guide To Decode Medical Bills
In 2018 Kaiser Health News and NPR teamed up to create “Bill of the Month,” a crowdsourced investigative series in which we dissect and explain medical bills you send us. We have received nearly 2,000 submissions of outrageous and confusing medical bills from across the country. Each month we select one bill to thoroughly investigate, often resulting in the bill being resolved soon after the story is published. But what about the large number of Americans who receive surprise medical bills that reporters can’t examine? (7/25)
More Bills Of The Month: Check out KHN's special coverage on surprisingly high medical bills.