Sunday, December 2, 2012

The High Costs of Emergency Medicine

A couple months ago, I had to take my youngest daughter to the Emergency Department. I picked her and her sister up from the park. She was in a panic because she had pain and a tightness in her chest and was having difficulty breathing. This is not something that could just wait for her primary care physician, so off we went to the ED. As it turns out, she has asthma like her sister and was having an attack. She got a breathing treatment and an inhaler and is now doing much better.

What was the cost for this excursion? I just got the bill yesterday. The grand total was $1417.30. After insurance, my share is only $551.72. I'll just write a check for that and it's over and done with.


Yeah, right. There's no way I have that sort of money just sitting around. Thankfully, I work at the same hospital and it's (relatively) easy for me to just arrange to have payments taken out of my check for the next six months (or whatever) to pay this off.

We talk a lot about the soaring cost of healthcare in the country and there is a push to take more preventative measures to reduce trips to the ED. Sometimes those visits are unavoidable, though, and it will be really important for Congress and the President to ensure that good cost control mechanisms are put in place with Obamacare so that the average person doesn't need to worry about healthcare being unaffordable. Like I said, I'm lucky in that I can make payment arrangements with a minimum of fuss. Most people are not in that situation and it's trivial to find horror stories of people going bankrupt over the cost of healthcare.

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