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Beware of ER-Like Facilities That Look Like Urgent Care

By Clark Howard, ClarkHoward.com

Subscribe-to-our-NewsletterDECEMBER 1, 2014 – Need quick medical care for an emergency? Be careful what type of facility you walk into.

There’s a difference big between urgent care facilities and stand-alone emergency room facilities. While the latter may have fancier equipment, an in-house lab, and more staff, it also comes with a heftier price tag.

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Actually, make that a much heftier price tag.

$10,000 for a doc-in-a-box visit?!

The Dallas Morning News reports that some consumers are being hit with up to $10,000 in bills from going to stand-alone emergency rooms.

In one case, a family was billed more than $10,000 for what was allegedly less than 5 minutes of a doctor’s time. During that short time, the family’s daughter had a partially dislocated elbow quickly adjusted.

“We were in the facility for less than an hour,” the mother told consumer watchdog Dave Lieber of The Dallas Morning News. “We received a weight check, a Popsicle, an exam, and the doctor performed a maneuver that literally took two seconds to correct my daughter’s partially dislocated elbow. The total bill? Over $10,000.”

If you don’t want this to happen to your wallet, Lieber recommends being particularly careful with places that have “emergency,” “ER,” and maybe even “24/7” in the title.

Here’s my takeaway:  When you go to one of these places, don’t settle when they say they take your insurance. That’s not good enough. You want to know before you agree to be seen what it’s going to cost.

On that count, I’ve got to hand it to CVS and Walgreens clinics for posting price lists right there on a digital board! There really is no reason why medicine has to play this game of Three-Card Monte.

Know what you’re getting, and know what it’s going to cost. If they can’t tell you, you need to find another place to go.

Speaking of another place to go, Target is doing a test by teaming up with Kaiser Permanente (KP) for in-store clinics where non-Kaiser patients can be seen. KP is a full service end-to-end medical provider. So this should help people with the continuity of care issues common among those who frequent doc-in-a-boxes.

SOURCE: http://www.clarkhoward.com/news/clark-howard/health-health-care/beware-er-facilities-look-urgent-care/njCjJ/

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