Quick ER visits can cost you big

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by JESSE JONES / KING 5

Bio | Email | Follow: @getjesse

KING5.com

Posted on January 23, 2014 at 12:25 AM

Updated Thursday, Jan 23 at 12:26 AM

Peder Vangstad's daughter Anya is quite the busy child.  And last spring the little one fell down and bumped her head.

“It was a nice little, you know, superficial head wound.  So it just wouldn't stop bleeding,” said Vangstad.

Anya’s family took her to Multi-Care Covington.

“We tried to go to the urgent care but it was closing so they actually suggested we go to the emergency room,” said Vangstad.

It wasn't a long stay.  According to the family, the doctor just glued the wound shut.

“The care was great. The facility was nice.  They saw her, they took good care of her and sent us on our way,” explained Vangstad.

But when the bill for the stay came in, it was Vangstad’s wallet that started to bleed.

“We're talking upwards of three grand,” said Vangstad.

With insurance, the family’s out-of-pocket bill $1,600.

“I'm not okay with that.  This is a little ridiculous.  It's a little bit of a racket.  If somebody is worried about their child and they want to take them to a facility to be cared for, there's expenses in that.  We all know health care is expensive.  Now, THAT is exceedingly expensive,” expressed Vangstad.

According to a national study funded by the National Institutes of Health, the mean charge for an open wound treated at an ER is $1,650.

Mary Kay Clunies-Ross with the Washington State Hospital Association says patients are paying for the care and for what the facility may face on a given day.

“The cost of the emergency room is significant because it does and is asked to do a significant number of things.  As any ER doc will tell you, you never know what is going to happen that day so they need to be prepared to that and that's built into the cost,” said Clunies-Ross.

Vangstad contacted Multi-Care looking for clarification of the bill.  After another look, the hospital discovered an extra $427 charge for the Dermabond used for Anya.  That charge came off the bill and Multi-Care gave him another $100 off as an apology for not responding promptly.  The rest he'll have to pay.

“It's a lot of money for anybody,” said Vangstad.

Bottom line: Call your insurer and get details on your emergency room coverage for the facility closest to your home.  Know that you can go to urgent care for some situations and if you're not sure about your bill ask for an audit.

In a response Multi-Care says about Vangstad’s bill:

“This bill reflects the services provided to this family and includes costs associated with providing an emergency department in Covington that's open 24 hours a day, seven days a week to treat patients who need immediate care.”
 

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