Uninsured and Facing an Emergency

Emergency rooms are specially designed to treat critically ill patients. You can visit an ER if your medical condition is serious, whether you are insured or not. Legally it is your right to be treated in the emergency room if you are seriously injured under Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA). The health professionals and other staff will be providing you the necessary treatment. However, the patient must pay all the billings, including doctor’s fees, hospital expenses, and specialist fees. The billings will cost you quite a penny because of being uninsured. On the other side of the hospital denies treating you; it will lead to medical malpractice.

Healthcare Issues Due to Lacking Insurance

Many people do not have healthcare insurance which has serious consequences most of the time. It results in poor quality of healthcare and ultimately death due to delaying essential medical care. Uninsured people are mostly diagnosed at later stages of some serious disease.

They receive poor healthcare and may face serious issues after being diagnosed. In case of not being insured, children can suffer. They don’t have access to medical care. They are not immunized. Most of the time, ignoring some serious symptoms can lead to hospitalization. In many cases, it has been proven fatal.

Financial Consequences

Among uninsured families, debt is a major consequence leading to increased credit card debt, which can cause bankruptcy. Another issue is that many hospitals don’t offer discounted prices. These expenses are about three times greater than what insurers pay. In such a scenario, people start to neglect their health. If health conditions are bad, people resign from their jobs. In this way, quality of life effects and death risk increases significantly.

The well-being of a community demands easy access to health insurance for all. It is not beneficial if a community has more uninsured individuals because it will affect them. It will have an impact on healthcare services also. So, in turn, it will be affecting the insured people of the community also.

Knowing Your Rights

Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA)

This act provides you all the rights to be treated at an emergency room if it’s a medical emergency. Characteristics of this act are mentioned below:

  • It covers all hospitals that have ER receive healthcare payments from the federal government. Both are present at almost all hospitals; therefore, all hospitals come under this act. Those hospitals or clinics which doesn’t meet the requirements as mentioned above are not included under EMTALA.
  • Under this act, a person with an acute condition within 250 yards of the hospital premises must be given emergency health care.
  • This act also implies pregnant women who get labor pain in an ER and cannot be transferred to another hospital. Immediate care must be provided; if not, it can cause a threat to mother and child. This act doesn’t consider pregnant women without active labor unless they have some other serious medical condition.
  • Situations like broken bones can lead to dysfunction if not treated in time. So, they are also included in emergencies.
  • The hospital physicians and staff are responsible for examining every patient that visits ER since they may be in bad condition.
  • The hospital is no further responsible if the patient is declared “not an emergency.” a hospital can do nothing if a person is not insured medically.
  • During emergencies, hospitals can either provide the treatment themselves or transfer the patient to another hospital, considering the circumstances.
  • Stabilizing treatment is necessary to be provided to the patient if transferring to other hospitals. It has lifesaving importance. In the case of active labor, it means delivering the child and placenta.
  • A non-stabilized patient is only transferred if recommended by a doctor. It includes the surety from a doctor that the merits of transferring are greater than risks.
  • Non-stabilized ER patients are not just transferred to any hospital. The legal procedure demands stabilizing the patient within the resources. Aftermath, moving the patient along with their medical history to the hospital that accepts the patient.
  • Violating EMTALA can result in a lawsuit. Moreover, it can lead to a fine of $50,000 per violation from the responsible physician. It can cause the termination of concerned doctors, including a fine of $25,000 up to $100,000 (depending upon facilities and number of beds) from a hospital.

Negotiating the Expenses

Across the globe, the percentage of uninsured individuals has significantly increased. In case of no medical insurance negotiating the bills is a good option. Some hospitals offer discounts while others have “charity care” to assist you with your costs. An option of paying the bills in monthly installments is also an option available at some hospitals. Sometimes the doctors also reduce the bills to as low as 10% for needy and poor people.

Can I visit Urgent Care Without Insurance?

Urgent care visits are appropriate in minor injuries like cuts, fractures, sore throat, infections, etc., if the patient’s condition is critical. They are sent to the near emergency room of a hospital. Urgent care clinics can be visited even if you are uninsured. They don’t charge a lot, but you have to pay for medicines and fees even if you are uninsured.

Some doctors may provide you with sample medication that can save your money, but it’s not practiced by many of them. They would prefer to keep the drugs for patients who visit urgent care themselves. You can ask your physician to lower the cost. Through combining treatments and smart prescriptions,  controlling the expense is possible to some extent.

You can talk to your doctors to negotiate the bills. Most of the time, they understand and realize that medical care is costly without insurance. Besides this, you can call urgent care in your area. The cost varies so you can find the one with a low price. Urgent cares are handy. They provide the necessary aid and facilities within your range.