If we end up in a hospital due to an emergency and we do not have insurance, medical professionals will have to treat us as patients in need. It is due to the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act. But, many people do not know what happens if you go to the ER without insurance, and today we will clear all the doubts.
Regardless of insurance coverage, anyone with an emergency medical condition must be treated with essential life-saving services. But, without insurance, we will be billed for all services, including physician fees, medical and hospital costs, and specialist payments if necessary.
Without an insurer to absorb these costs, the bills could increase exponentially.
Who pays the medical bills?
If it’s covered by our plan, our insurance will be responsible for paying for at least a portion of our medical services. It will include doctor visits, medications, and trips to the emergency room. For the rest of the bills, we will pay by co-payment, co-insurance, or deductible, the amount we will pay until insurance coverage begins.
When we do not have insurance coverage, we will be responsible for the full cost of the bill from both the hospital and the treating physician. We can look up the cost outside of emergencies to get a clear picture. These vary dramatically, so it is best to check directly with the treating hospital’s website for details.
Negotiating Hospital Bills
There are situations where hospitals may give discounts to uninsured individuals or allow patients to pay for negotiated amounts over time. Negotiated bills are usually divided into monthly charges. If possible, bills should ideally be negotiated before hospitalization, especially in cases such as surgery or maternity.
We can find information on financial assistance programs in the hospital’s payment department, which may be called “Charity Care.” It may be able to adjust bills to our ability to pay. Non-profit hospitals are required by law to offer assistance plans to low-income patients.
Debt collectors can also be stopped, and hospitals prefer to work out payments with patients. It is especially because the bill collectors will keep 50% of what they get from each patient.
On the other hand, many individual physicians regularly work with patients who cannot pay the full cost of care. Policies can vary quite a bit, but many physicians cut their fees in half for those in need and may even reduce bills by as much as 10%.
Why visit an Urgent Care Center?
When not experiencing a true emergency, visiting an urgent care center can be a good decision. Critical care professionals are usually nurses, who can treat minor injuries or illnesses, and costs may be lower. If necessary, they will notify us if they believe further medical attention is required or if we should go to the emergency room.
Normally, the cost of an urgent care center is half the cost of an emergency room visit. The costs will be for the office visit and any required prescription medication or lab costs.
On the other hand, a trip to the emergency room will involve hospital costs, physician fees, prescriptions, and lab fees. Normally these costs are much higher than at urgent care centers. However, the latter will most likely ask for an upfront payment if we do not have health insurance.
What is the average cost of being treated without insurance?
Patients who do not have insurance may have a highly variable cost in their care, which depends on many factors. On average, a patient in the emergency room may be spending around $2,200 for the care of common illnesses.
However, if special studies or particular medications are needed for a condition, the cost of these must be paid, which will significantly increase the uninsured ER bill. Typically this bill will be mailed in the weeks following the hospital visit, where all charges for the care received will be collected. If we want to avoid paying too much for healthcare services, it is best to have insurance that offers good coverage, so we don’t overspend.