Recent news stories say that many people are being surprised by high out-of- pocket costs for medical care, including emergency care. The problem is that insurance companies are misleading patients by offering “affordable” premiums for policies that cover very little.
Eight of 10 emergency physicians in a recent poll have seen patients who delayed or sacrificed care in fear of the out-of-pocket costs. I am one of those physicians.
Coverage and plans are so complicated that, even for physicians, it is a roll of the dice when it comes to knowing what will be covered. Recently, one company randomly dropped physicians from its drug coverage so patients had to pay for the medications themselves.
This has happened to our doctors, physician assistants and nurse practitioners two or three times over the past two years. This causes frustration for providers, but more important, increases financial strain for our patients and the risk of delayed treatments.
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No health-insurance plan is affordable if it abandons you in an emergency. Patients can’t choose where and when they will need emergency care and should not be punished with high out-of-pocket expenses.
We pay hard-earned money and trust insurers to hold up their end of the deal. State and federal policymakers need to ensure that health plans provide fair coverage for emergency services.
Dr. Ryan Stanton
Kentucky Chapter, American College of Emergency Physicians