ER clinics must now give patients billing information up front.
You will need prompt medical care after you are injured in a car crash. But you don’t necessarily need to be taken by an expensive ambulance (the typical cost in Fort Worth is $1,600.00) to a huge level one trauma center and have to pay the hospital, emergency room, and radiology company $5,000.00 or more.
This is where freestanding ERs can fill the gap. But they can also sometimes come with an enormous price that is shocking.
After years of complaints about excessive bills for minor emergency clinics, the Texas legislature stepped in. A new Texas law will hopefully alleviate these surprise bills.
As of September 1st, freestanding emergency clinics must post which insurance companies cover their services.
I just discussed a similar problem about how air ambulance companies gouge people after auto collisions here and what you can do about it.
A good idea gone bad
Texas was the first state in the country to allow freestanding emergency medical care facilities in 2010. In that short seven-year period, 215 facilities have opened, mostly in big metro areas like Dallas and Fort Worth.
These minor ER clinics offer convenience and with dozens in the area, one is likely to be down the street from you. A patient who really doesn’t need hospital care, but can’t wait for his or her doctor’s office to open the next morning, can go to one that is open 24 hours.
But patients often learned the hard way that the minor ER visit can cost the same as a major hospital but that their health insurance didn’t pay for it. Why not? Either the clinic was out of network, it didn’t bill Cigna or Cigna refused to pay it, causing the patient to be stuck with a bill that averages $2,200.00.
The average hospital ER bill of $2,259 is usually covered. But health insurance carriers have also started to deny payment.
This is a serious problem for automobile accident victims that I blogged about here several months ago.
What should you do if you get hit from an enormous bill
Take action immediately. A call or visit to the facility may be enough to obtain relief. You might also consider filing a complaint with the Texas Department of State Health Services.
Being in a car crash is a terrible experience. Surprise bills add to the anxiety and frustration of a problem that you didn’t cause in the first place. It is good news that that the Texas legislature is beginning to address unfair surprise bills and hope that other laws and regulations will rectify these problems people face after they are injured.
Berenson Injury Law can help you by negotiating with the clinic for a substantial bill reduction, negotiating with the at-fault driver’s liability insurance company or filing suit for your damages.