Emergency room costs – yikes!

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An article in the May 2013 AARP Bulletin cites a study showing the great disparity in emergency room costs. Here are a few examples of what

Asking a few questions can save you money.

Asking a few questions can save you money.

costs can range.:

  • Sprain – $4 to $24,110
  • Headache – $15 to $17,797
  • Upper respiratory infection – $19 to $17,421.
  • Urinary tract infection – $50 to $73,002

I could not believe how much a simple problem or condition could cost! It’s outrageous! If your visit is not covered by insurance, you could be in for a shock. The study did find that uninsured patients paid slightly less than those who had private insurance or Medicaid.

Unless it is a true emergency, a few questions could save you money. Ask questions about costs and the necessity of a procedure. Some might be a CYA test and perhaps not necessary or could be done at a later time and cost you less. One suggestion the article included was to ask for an itemized bill. That way, if you want to dispute any charges, you have ammunition.

One thing I learned was to ask “Is this covered by insurance/Medicare/Medicaid?” A couple of years ago, my doctor suggested an appointment with a heart specialist because she heard a slight click. Looking back at how she asked if I wanted to do it, I should have guessed that something was amiss. The test he did was not covered. The symptom wasn’t anything that indicated a serious condition, though I didn’t realize that. I did not ask enough questions – about what the click could mean and if the visit and test would be covered.

If you aren’t covered by insurance or a secondary policy for Medicare, asking the price is even more critical. And, you can often negotiate a better price by asking for it ahead of time. Don’t pay $24,000+ for a sprain or $17,000+ for a headache! Jaimie Hall Bruzenak

May 30, 2013
Categories : Saving money
Technorati Tags: emergency room health care costs medicaid medicare retirement

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