About 20 percent of Americans visit an emergency department each year. Rising emergency-department costs lead to higher deductibles and co-payments for patients with health insurance, and a larger proportion of self-pay responsibility for those without insurance, the researchers said in the news release.
With rising health care costs and a growing burden of medical debt among Americans, there needs to be more transparency in hospital charges, and patients need to be better informed about the costs of their medical care, the researchers said.
"While most patients with time-sensitive conditions -- such as [heart attack], stroke or sepsis -- may not be in a position to make decisions about their care based on costs or charges, there are many situations in which patients could reasonably inquire about the potential financial implications of their medical care before making treatment decisions," the study authors concluded.
The American College of Emergency Physicians outlines when you should go to the emergency department.
-- Robert Preidt
SOURCE: University of California, San Francisco, news release, Feb. 27, 2013
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