Without medical insurance, a medical emergency will likely result in a huge bill running into the thousands. But even without healthcare benefits, there are ways to cut down on the costs of a medical emergency.
Determine if the emergency room is necessary
Up to 25 percent of ER visits are not actually medical emergencies. Instead, they are due to non-emergency situations such as coughs, strains, sprains, and allergies, all of which could have been treated outside of an emergency room. But by receiving medical care in an ER, your healthcare costs will usually triple, or even quadruple. If you decide to go to an emergency room simply because you think you’ll receive medical attention quicker, think again. Depending on the urgency of your situation and how busy the emergency room is, you might need to wait several hours before a doctor can see you.
Emergency room alternatives
If you do have health insurance, try calling your health plan’s nurse advice line. Many plans will include this service for free. Additionally, another option for immediate medical care is an urgent care center. While most of these centers are not open 24 hours a day, during normal business hours, they can offer treatment for conditions that are not life-threatening. And these centers will only charge a fraction of the amount that a hospital’s emergency room would charge.
Cutting down on emergency room costs
A true medical emergency will require a trip to the ER (especially if you are unsure; it is always better to err on the side of caution), but there are still ways you can cut down on these costs.
If you can, avoid taking the ambulance, as these fees can be quite substantial. Also, be sure to carefully examine your bill. Because emergency rooms can be chaotic, it’s easy for a mistake to be made. Without looking at an itemized bill to see exactly what you’re being charged for, you may unknowingly pay for the same thing charged multiple times, a wrong diagnosis, or tests and medical care that you never received.
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Nothing above is meant to provide financial or medical advice. You should meet with appropriate professionals for such services.