Are You an Inpatient When You Are In the ER?

High angle view of doctor defibrillating male patient while nursNo. One of our readers, Bob, was very surprised with this answer. Bob was taken to the ER after a car accident. He was treated and released. Following his ER visit, Bob got many bills saying he had to pay for much of the cost himself. He wondered why since he had good hospital insurance coverage.

I explained to Bob that insurance companies consider the ER an outpatient service. Your insurance often covers less of the cost of outpatient services than inpatient services. This is confusing since the ER is usually in the hospital.

Additionally, there are often many people who see you in the ER who will each likely send you a separate bill. The ER physician may send you a bill. You may get a bill from the radiologist who read your x-ray. You will also get a bill from the hospital for all the services you received in the ER. Since these are all outpatient services, you will likely have to pay for many of the costs out-of-pocket.

The average cost of an ER visit is approximately $1,265. It can cost a lot more depending on the seriousness of the visit and which tests are run.

If you are admitted to the hospital, the ER charges are often included in the hospital bill. However, if you are like Bob and you are sent home, you may be responsible for a large part of the bill.

Do you have any questions about your health insurance coverage? I’d love to hear from you!

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