In July, Taylor Davis told FOX 5 Atlanta she went to the Emory Decatur Hospital ER for a head injury, waited seven hours and was never seen. Weeks later, she was billed $700.
Adamant it was a mistake, Davis called the hospital and was told she was charged what’s called a “facility fee” or “emergency room visiting fee.”
“So I called them and she said it’s hospital protocol even if you’re just walking in and you’re not seen. When you type in your social, that’s it. You’re going to get charged regardless,” Davis told FOX 5 Atlanta.
Kaiser Health News reported this is often called “provider-based billing” and it allows hospitals that own physician practices and outpatient clinics to bill separately for the facility as well as for physician services. In 2009 when this billing was granted, one billing consultant calculated the fees could provide an additional $30,000 annually per physician for hospitals.
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In an email from an Emory Healthcare patient financial services employee, Davis was told: “You get charged before you are seen. Not for being seen.”
“Emory Healthcare takes all patient concerns seriously and appreciates this has been brought to our attention. Our teams are currently looking into this matter and will follow up directly with the individual,” Emory Healthcare said in an emailed statement to USA TODAY.
Following the billing, Davis said she’s reluctant to return to any ER or hospital and now sees it as a “last resort.”
“Seeing that they’re able to bill you for random things, it doesn’t make me want to go. So that’s not good,” Davis told USA TODAY.
In 2019, the nonprofit Health Care Cost Institute found that the average emergency room visit cost $1,389, up 176% over the decade. This number only includes the cost of entry for emergency care, not include extra charges such as blood tests, IVs, drugs or other treatments.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also caused an understaffing issue in hospitals resulting in longer wait times and less rooms for patients.
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