What a lot of people are unhappy with is the excessive emergency room costs inherent with these facilities.
“We were charged a $4,688 ‘facility fee’ to see a doctor for less than five minutes,” Andrea Woslager told The Dallas Morning News (11/16/14).
“We were in the facility for less than an hour. We received a weight check, a Popsicle, an exam, and the doctor performed a maneuver that literally took two seconds to correct my daughter’s partially dislocated elbow. The total bill? Over $10,000.”
That’s enough to buy a small car or fund a child’s university tuition.
Woslager isn’t the only one bent out of shape over such high emergency room fees at these stand-alone facilities.
Randy Culpepper took his daughter to a mini-ER for an asthma treatment. The bill was $1,600. His insurance company later refused to reimburse him because the problem wasn’t deemed an emergency.
Pundits and industry watchers note that a patient is likely to receive quicker medical care at an urgent care center, a walk-in clinic or some other retail health center for a non-emergency issue that doesn’t have to come with the high cost of visiting a hospital - or worse, considering the emergency room cost - a free-standing ER facility, without a hospital attached to it.
The problem is that most folks don’t have medical training, and have no idea as to what is a true emergency, and what isn’t. In the heat of the moment, you are in urgent need of making your child well, for example. As a parent, you proceed to the facility that will take care of a crying child quickly and efficiently.
More often than not, people get into a disputed medical bill situation when they realize - too late, as it turns out - that the facility to which they attended is out of their health coverage network.
Woslager told The Dallas Morning News that she asked about the price tag going in. “We inquired about the cost when we entered the facility and were told they couldn’t say.”
READ MORE EMERGENCY ROOM CHARGES LEGAL NEWS
Last year, according to The Dallas Morning News, Aetna won a judgment against three emergency room centers and a small hospital in the Houston area. The judgment, stemming from a federal case brought in Houston last year, was worth $8 million to Aetna.
As for the everyday Joe who goes into either a hospital emergency room or a stand-alone ER in a panic with a crying child - who is not told in advance how much the procedure will cost and whether or not the facility is within his health plan network, only to be saddled with ER charges in the thousands of dollars he can ill afford to pay - there are four words to consider:
Justice. Call your attorney.