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Emergency room bills: what I learned from reading 1,182 ER bills - Vox
[[one hospital in Tennessee charged a patient a pretty reasonable $1 for bacitracin — while another hospital in Seattle charged $76 for the exact same ointment. Since prices aren’t made public, it was impossible for these (or any) patients to know whether they were at a hospital that charges $1 for a squirt of antibiotic ointment or one that charges 76 times that amount. 34 percent of emergency room visits lead to out-of-network bills in Texas — way above the national average of 20 percent.

And, much like the bills with high prices, these bills are really hard to prevent. Out-of-network doctors won’t often mention that they don’t accept the patient’s insurance; they might not even know.

patients can face steep bills even if they don’t see a doctor or have their ailment treated. They can decline treatment and still end up with a hefty fee.This is all due to the key fee I’ve been investigating this year: the ER facility fee. This is the fee that ERs charge for walking in the door and seeking care, something akin to a cover charge at a bar.

Hospital executives often argue that these fees help them keep the lights on and doors open for whatever emergency might come in, anything from a stubbed toe to a stroke patient.

But experts who study emergency billing question how these fees are set and charged, noting that they are seemingly arbitrary, varying widely from one hospital to another. A Vox analysis of these fees, published last year, shows that the prices rose 89 percent between 2009 and 2015 — rising twice as fast as overall health care prices.

How do I avoid a surprise ER bill? Or how can I get my ER bill lowered?

I wish I had a good answer, but I don’t. Patients are usually at the mercy of the hospital when it comes to ER billing.

I have talked to some patients who have successfully negotiated down their emergency room bills. Most of those people applied for financial aid, requested a prompt pay discount, or found an error on their bill.

Some especially savvy patients have even had luck arguing that their facility fee charge was coded incorrectly — that the hospital used a billing code that should be reserved for really intense, complex visits when their visit was actually pretty simple. I’ve noticed that these patients tend to have a doctor in their family who can help them make this type of argument.

Most patients who have successfully negotiated down a bill tell me it wasn’t easy. Erin Floyd from Florida told me about her experience reducing two of her daughter’s bills — one by 90 percent and one by 45 percent — through a combination of financial aid and prompt care discounts.

And then there are, as Slate has noted, patients who have had their bills reversed after journalists wrote about them. Our project, for example, has resulted in $45,107 in medical bills being reversed after Vox began inquiring about those charges.]]
against  USA  emergency  healthcare  cost  insurance 
3 days ago by dandv
Concrn | The compassionate response network
Compassionate Alternative to 911: Concrn trains community members and dispatches them to help people in need. We use technology to connect concerned community members and dispatch trained peer responders who assist people in emotional and behavioral crisis. Now piloting in San Francisco.
nonprofit  activism  homeless  emergency 
6 days ago by cyberchucktx
Alabama tornadoes: Trump vows 'A plus treatment' for Alabama, but not California or Puerto Rico - The Washington Post
After the deadliest outbreak of tornadoes in years swept through the South, killing more than 20 people and wreaking devastation in Alabama, President Trump promised on Twitter that the disaster relief would be swift, the best his administration could muster — “A Plus treatment” for a state in dire need.
“FEMA has been told directly by me to give the A Plus treatment to the Great State of Alabama and the wonderful people who have been so devastated by the Tornadoes,” Trump wrote Monday, referring to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s relief efforts.
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R), who said she spoke to Trump, thanked him for the support.
But elsewhere — in corners of the country also hard-hit by natural catastrophes — some leaders may have privately wondered: What about us?
Trump’s enthusiastic assurance that Alabama would get top-flight help contrasts sharply with his barbed rhetoric following horrific wildfires in California and Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, when he repeatedly threatened to cut off federal aid and picked fights with local politicians, in one instance calling the mayor of San Juan “totally incompetent."
gov2.0  politics  trump  state  disaster  SMH  emergency 
8 days ago by rgl7194
Daring Fireball: Trump Vows 'A-Plus Treatment' for Alabama
One more item on the state of Trump’s kakistocracy. Reis Thebault, writing for The Washington Post:
“FEMA has been told directly by me to give the A Plus treatment to the Great State of Alabama and the wonderful people who have been so devastated by the Tornadoes,” Trump wrote Monday, referring to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s relief efforts. […]
Trump’s enthusiastic assurance that Alabama would get top-flight help contrasts sharply with his barbed rhetoric following horrific wildfires in California and Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, when he repeatedly threatened to cut off federal aid and picked fights with local politicians, in one instance calling the mayor of San Juan “totally incompetent.”
The difference between Alabama and Puerto Rico and California, the president’s critics say, is obvious.
“The president really treats differently those people who have supported him in the past and those people who haven’t,” Brian Ott, a rhetoric professor at Texas Tech University, told The Washington Post. “Not all lives are equal in the eyes of the president. … The lives of red states matter, and the lives of blue states don’t.”
It’s one outrage after another with this administration, I know. A non-stop barrage on our collective sense of normalcy and decency. But it’s worth taking a moment here to ponder just how morally bankrupt Trump is to see emergency disaster relief as a reward to be doled out based on his perceived political support among those affected.
gov2.0  politics  trump  state  disaster  SMH  daring_fireball  emergency 
8 days ago by rgl7194

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