How to Avoid Rising E.R. Costs
Most of us have had this experience. Your doctor’s office is closed for the weekend and you are hit with a sudden illness or a painful injury. The conventional choice has been to head for the hospital emergency room and plan on a long wait for treatment.
But, today, there is a shift away from using hospital emergency rooms for non-life threatening emergencies. Hospital costs are skyrocketing and insurers are passing a bigger portion of these costs on to the patients.
There are a growing number of good alternatives to the ER for those times when you need immediate attention. The next time you need non-emergency care, consider one of these. You will likely save both money and time.
Urgent Care Centers: Most urgent care centers are equipped to handle a wide array of non-life threatening health needs, including fevers, coughs, sprains and cuts. Some also give you the option of checking in online so you can avoid long delays in crowded waiting rooms. Most urgent care clinics offer extended hours and are open seven days a week, including holidays.
Retail Health Clinic: A number of major pharmacies now have walk-in clinics staffed by medical professionals. Retail health clinics are convenient when you want to check on a cough or get a flu shot. While most accept insurance, it is recommended you contact your insurer before your visit to determine if the clinic is in-network and to verify coverage for the specific service you're seeking.
Video Visits with a Physician: You can skip the waiting room completely by doing a video visit. Video visits provide access to board-certified doctors 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, all from the comfort of your home, office or anywhere you have an internet connection. Video visits are most often used for common complaints, such as upper respiratory infections, allergies, flu symptoms and coughs. The physician you chat with online is able to assess your condition and send prescriptions to your pharmacy, with some insurance plans covering 100% of the cost.
24/7 Nurse Line: Many health insurance plans now have a nurse line available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can call for their help to determine the severity of your symptoms and advice on where to go for care.
In non-emergency situations, it is best to call your doctor’s office first. They may want to see you or suggest their preferred alternatives to the emergency room. Your insurance provider can also help you find a conveniently located, licensed and accredited care setting and determine whether your plan covers the alternative facility’s services.
I want to stress that you should always call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room in any life threatening situation including:
- Chest pains
- Difficulty breathing
- Signs of stroke
- Severe cuts or limb threatening injuries
- Suicidal or homicidal feelings
For help with all your life, health or Medicare insurance needs, call me at 440-255-5700 or email your question to Lmutsko@mutskoinsurance.com. I’m here to help.
Laura Mutsko is a licensed insurance broker offering a complete line of health and life insurance products, including Individual, Group and Family Health, Medicare Advantage Plans, Medicare Supplement Plans, Medicare Part D Prescription Coverage, Vision, Dental and Life Insurance. Mutsko Insurance Services, LLC is located at 6982 Spinach Drive in Mentor, Ohio.