Emergency Room Bills Hard to Predict

ER Bills Are Harder to PredictTreating a sprain in a U.S. hospital can cost $4 to $24,000, making a trip to the emergency room financially risky for uninsured patients, researchers said.

A study found wide variety between the lowest and highest charges for 10 common conditions, highlighting the unpredictability of health-care costs. Bills were $50 to more than $73,000 for urinary tract infections, $15 to $17,797 for headache care and $29 to $29,551 for intestinal infections.

“There is a huge amount of variation in the prices charged for medical care and, unfortunately, our system is set up in a way where patients really can’t do much about it,” said Renee Hsia, an assistant professor of emergency medicine at the University of California, San Francisco and author of the study, published yesterday in the journal PLoS One.

While these are the prices that hospitals bill for their services, what a patient ends up paying depends on whether they have insurance and what kind, Hsia said. Larger insurance companies can negotiate lower rates, while the uninsured usually have to pay the entire bill, she said. ===> Continue Reading

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