December 14, 2016 – Big Bills


Anchor lead: What accounts for huge emergency department bills? Elizabeth Tracey reports

Many people who seek care in an emergency department may subsequently be unpleasantly surprised by the size of the bill, especially those whose insurance covers the hospital facility but not the physician’s bill, a recent study emphasized.  Gabor Kelen, director of emergency medicine at Johns Hopkins, says when you need emergency care, it may not be the right time for examining coverage issues.

Kelen: Emergency is expensive. Our standby costs are very, very high. We have the world’s best subspecialists right there, the world’s best specialists very, very highly trained and they’re standing by to take care of you with all of their assistants, and we have to be fully staffed all the time, because much of the time we’re full but  even when we’re not you never know when you will be. So all of those costs get rolled into the final fees.  :25

Kelen says it is prudent to examine your health insurance coverage when your healthcare needs are not emergent, however.  At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.