In a recent NY Times article, the costs in the ER were discussed yet again. This is an ongoing problem that shows the most expensive care is typically in the emergency room. It’s not really a new revelation but by highlighting the actual charges patients are receiving in their bills, it’s just as alarming (Coincidentally, I’m on staff at CPMC, the hospital highlighted in the article). The solution to the high cost of healthcare, including in the ER, will eventually arrive through price transparency.
Price transparency, similar to when buying a house or a car, allows you to shop around. The hospitals aren’t big fans but they will be. Doctors, on the other hand, are finally embracing price transparency, albeit kicking and screaming.
Websites, including insurance company sites, are providing the out-of-pocket healthcare costs to patients with high-deductible health plans. As high-deductible plans become increasingly common, and research shows they are, more patients will be paying out-of-pocket and will be more discerning with their healthcare spending. This has started in the doctor’s office, will spread to hospitals and ultimately reach the emergency rooms. Price transparency websites of the future will allow you to make comparisons… even in an emergency.
And keep in mind, not everything is an emergency. If it’s during the day and you don’t want to wait in the ER, you can call my office to stitch up a cut on the face. I guarantee you won’t get a multi-thousand dollar bill from the insurance company. We charge a low flat rate for laceration repairs and it’s done by a real plastic surgeon, which is what you would ask for if you went to the ER anyway!