“Why Is My ER Bill So High?!” And 5 Other Things to Know Before You Go

Why Is My ER Bill So High article image

The cost of an emergency room visit is one of the single-largest expenses most Americans will face. And while most people understand that there is a premium for on-demand expert medical care, it’s hard to pay a $595 ER bill when your doctor would have charged $127 for your case of acute bronchitis. In this article, we’ll cover some of the most-asked questions related to your emergency room visit, so you won’t be taken by surprise after your visit.

The ER is always there to help you when you need it. With this article, we’d like to help you know when you need it, and what you should know before you navigate to the nearest emergency room.

1. Why Is My Emergency Room Visit Bill So High?

There are several factors affecting your emergency room bill:

  • The severity of your symptoms or medical condition
  • Additional tests such as lab work, x-rays or other diagnostic tests may be required to assist the physician in making an accurate diagnosis causing additional expense
  • The need for highly trained clinicians available on demand, 24/7.
  • A popular belief is that you may actually be paying for those who do not have the ability to pay or the insurance to cover their own medical expenses.

Debt.org explains that ERs cannot legally turn away someone looking for care, so “patients without insurance, or the necessary funds to pay out-of-pocket costs, often utilize emergency rooms as their primary access to healthcare. This puts tremendous strain on ERs, and limits their ability to attend quickly to true health emergencies.” Whether such instances directly impact your bill or create a deficit on the system as a whole, all costs in any market get passed down to the consumer.

2. Do I Even Need to Go to the Emergency Room?

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) said in February 2016 that one in five adults (20%) reported that they use the emergency room at least once per year. A 2013 study stands as an interesting counterpoint to the number of people visiting the ER: it revealed that just 29% of ER visits actually required emergency care.

The majority of emergency rooms determine the level of care you need by the Emergency Severity Index (ESI), and they determine triage (a French word meaning “to sort”) by a 5-point scale:

  1. Resuscitation
  2. Emergent
  3. Urgent
  4. Less urgent
  5. Non-urgent

This graph demonstrates how emergency room staff determines where on the ESI scale a patient’s symptoms qualifies:

ESI Triage Graph

When the 2013 report states that only 29% of visits required emergency care, they are referencing conditions that would be categorized as an ESI 1 or ESI 2. But every time a person visits an ER, it is for a condition that can be frightening and stressful both for the patient and for the people caring for the patient. If you are in doubt about the severity of your condition, you can always call Emergis ER.

3. How Long Will I Wait at The ER?

According to Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, the average ER wait time is four hours. That’s true of most hospital emergency rooms—especially when 71% of the people there don’t have conditions that need to be treated immediately.

Emergis ER is different. You will see a doctor within minutes of walking through our doors, so you can get better quickly and return home sooner.

4. How Much Does an Ambulance Cost?

Ambulance rides used to be free, underwritten as a municipal charge to the city. Today things have changed, and most people find themselves saddled with a bill between $800 and $1,772 — even if the ride is less than a mile long.

5. Who Can Come in With The Patient?

If you are bringing someone to the ER, you will likely be able to follow that person through the doors and be with them during their treatment. Parents are always welcome to stay with their child, though a doctor or nurse may ask the parents to step out for a minute depending on the situation. Family members, clergy and anyone related to the person’s immediate care may be able to accompany the patient.

The ER is not a hospital; the goal is to get patients treated, and either send them home or to a more appropriate level of care. That means you won’t be here long enough for people to come visit, and the facility is not set up for a large group of people to occupy the halls when medical staff and patients need to move quickly. Emergency rooms may allow for one to two people beyond admittance for a patience.

6. What Happens After my Emergency Room Visit?

When you are treated at an Emergis ER, you will get a follow-up call from our staff the next day to check on your symptoms and see what more you may need. You can also email your doctor with follow-up questions at any time, so you are not disconnected from the care you need once you walk out of our doors.

Call or Visit Emergis ER Any Time

When you call Emergis ER, nurses are on the phone to give you authoritative counsel on the phone so that you can get answers to your emergency questions immediately and get in sooner. Patients that visit Emergis ER are in a room talking to a doctor within minutes.

We hope you never need us—but when you do, your emergency is our emergency.