Attention all Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) HMO members: by now, you should have received a letter from BCBS informing you of the insurance changes regarding the use of Emergency Rooms. Beginning on June 4, 2018, all patients who visit the ER for a non-life-threatening issue may be subject to pay the entirety of their bill. If you think that sounds like a lot of money, it usually is! We want to help BCBS HMO members better understand the importance of this change and why choosing Integrity Urgent Care is a good decision for your health and your bank account.
The goal of these changes that BCBS is implementing is to it free up the limited resources within local Emergency Rooms. The ER is intended to reserve staff, supplies, and healthcare to treat emergencies. Instead, the convenience of a 24/7 facility draws in people with minor conditions such as headaches and sprained ankles. This not only drives up costs but wait time. An influx of people in the ER means physicians must choose who to treat and how quickly they need to be seen. Patients generally wait to see a doctor for up to two hours if their condition is not serious or life-threatening. In 2017, 136.9 million people visited the ER in the United States. In order to lighten the load for emergency room staff and ensure that only people with true emergencies visit the ER, Blue Cross Blue Shield has adjusted their policy. From now on, members may be required to pay the full amount of their bill if a visit to an out-of-network ER is deemed unnecessary. However, members still have access to the convenience of a walk-in clinic through urgent care facilities like Integrity Urgent Care.
When to Choose an Urgent Care Clinic
The National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey found that one-third to one-half of all ER visits are for non-emergencies. Physicians encourage you to visit an urgent care clinic instead of an emergency room for these reasons:
- Cold or flu symptoms
- Seasonal allergies
- Animal/insect bite
- Sprains and broken bones
- Cuts that may require stitches
- Vomiting or diarrhea
- Urinary tract infection
- Abdominal pain
- Minor back pain
Why an Urgent Care Clinic is Best
Trained physicians at a local urgent care are available to effectively handle the issues and conditions listed above. The emergency room should only be considered if a life-threatening issue is at stake such as unconsciousness, unresponsiveness, or difficulty breathing. The hours of operation for most urgent care clinics are more flexible than those of a private practice, and walk-ins are always welcome. If you’re considering the convenience of a walk-in clinic compared to an Emergency Room, don’t overlook the convenience of cost. An average ER visit can cost anywhere from $1,233 to $2,168. Many urgent care clinics only require a co-pay, but if you must pay out of pocket, you’ll be looking at spending around $100, rather than $1,000.
Integrity Urgent Care is a walk-in clinic dedicated to meeting your healthcare needs. Put money back into your pocket and save valuable time by visiting our Bryan/College Station location for your non-emergent issues. If you have questions, you can contact us at (979) 703-1832.
Sources:https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/emergency-department.htm, https://www.debt.org/medical/emergency-room-urgent-care-costs/, http://www.pages02.net/hcscnosuppression/NLT_EMPL_BV_TX_042018_BENEFIT_MANAGEMENT_PROCESS/?spMailingID=13349132&spUserID=MjQ3MTk5ODU3NjgwS0&spJobID=1381723204&spReportId=MTM4MTcyMzIwNAS2