Emergency Room Rights|
Seen on NewsChannel 5 KGWN
Americans enjoy some of the best health care available on
the planet. But it won't do you any good if a hospital can
refuse to treat you if you happen to show up without your
checkbook or insurance card. Can they? Money Talks reporter
Stacy Johnson has the answer.
Sooner or later, odds are
good that you, or someone you love, will ultimately end up at
an emergency room.
Perhaps you've heard horror stories
about hospitals refusing to treat emergency patients because
they lacked insurance or money to pay for the help. Urban
legend, or does this actually happen?
Well, here's the
deal: Federal law requires all hospitals that participate in
Medicare, which is most of them, provide screening, emergency
care and appropriate transfers to anyone who shows up, without
first inquiring about their ability to pay.
So you know
that you're probably not going to be turned away in a true
emergency, whether or not you have money or insurance. Of
course, that doesn't mean you're getting free treatment,
you're still responsible for the bill.
Here's a common
question: Most managed care plans, like HMOs, require you to
get authorization before you go to the ER. If you don't, do
they have to pay anyway? The answer differs by state and
company, but most states do have laws that require insurers to
pay in an emergency, even without pre-authorization. The best
way to find out your personal situation is to call the state
department of insurance, or your insurer, before the situation
If you do pause for authorization, federal law
requires the hospital to treat you while you're waiting.
Therefore, keeping a healthy knowledge of your rights, can
keep you, and your checkbook, in the pink.
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