You don’t usually get to plan your trips to the hospital emergency room. While you sometimes can’t avoid a trip to the ER, you might be surprised to find it can be outrageously costly and frustrating with a high price tag and long wait times. The best way to maximize your quality of care while in the ER and to minimize your overall bill is to learn more about the hospital emergency room. Here’s everything you need to know about the emergency room before you visit!
If you can, skip the ambulance
Obviously, there are instances when you need to travel by ambulance to the hospital. This ensures you get EMT assistance on the ride to the hospital, and if you’re in a life-threatening situation, this can make a big difference. However, if you’re not in a life-threatening situation and can easily navigate to the hospital alone, this might save you major money.
You might think taking an ambulance will mean seeing the doctor faster, but that isn’t always the case. After arriving to the hospital in an emergency vehicle, a nurse will determine the severity of your injury/illness and you’ll wait in the same line as everyone else. Taking an ambulance to ER isn’t usually fully covered by your health insurance, which means your hospital bill can go up to over $3000 in some cases! While you might think an ambulance is the best way to get to the hospital, unless you’re in a life-threatening situation, you might want to consider other transportation.
Talk to your doctor before you go
If your doctor recommends a trip to the emergency room, you can actually ask your doctor to contact the hospital on your behalf. A doctor can inform the reception staff of your impending arrival which can cut down on time spent waiting. Having a doctor call before you arrive can mean getting the treatment you need sooner and not spending hours in the waiting room.
Only go to the ER if you really need to
Hospital emergency rooms are inundated with people who are in varying degrees of distress and injury. In fact, the majority of people who visit the emergency room don’t need to be there. This leads to long wait times and increased bills for those who didn’t need to see a hospital doctor for their minor burn, for example. In many cases, you can wait to see an emergency care clinic or a regular physician who can treat your symptoms without the high cost or wait.
The rule of thumb is children under five or the elderly should visit the emergency room for a high fever over 100. You should go straight to the emergency room if you’re struggling to breathe, have a broken bone, have a high fever, are non-stop vomiting, or are severely bleeding.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions
If you’re told you need certain treatment, you should feel confident in asking about all of your options. While one doctor assigned to your treatment might suggest a certain test, another might believe the situation could be best mediated with medication. A lot of patients feel they shouldn’t ask questions in these situations, but that might lead to more expensive treatment and not knowing all your options. Doctors are aware patients will likely have questions, and it’s always within your rights to ask for a second opinion.
Know these things before you go to the ER
A trip to the ER is never a fun time, but you can educate yourself before you go to ensure the best outcome. If you absolutely cannot wait for a regular doctor’s appointment or clinic appointment, don’t hesitate to rush to the emergency room at your nearest hospital. The more you know about the inner workings of the ER, the more likely you’ll avoid a hefty bill or long wait.