Emergency Room Visit Cost How Much Does an Emergency Room Visit Cost?

 Typical costs:
  • An emergency room visit typically is covered by health insurance. For patients covered by health insurance, out-of-pocket cost for an emergency room visit typically consists of a copay, usually$50-$150 or more, which often is waived if the patient is admitted to the hospital. Depending on the plan, costs might include coinsurance of 10% to 50%.
  • For patients without health insurance, an emergency room visit typically costs from $150-$3,000 or more, depending on the severity of the condition and what diagnostic tests and treatment are performed. In some cases, especially where critical care is required and/or a procedure or surgery is performed, the cost could reach $20,000 or more. For example, at Park Nicollet Methodist Hospital in Minnesota, a low-level emergency room visit, such as for a minor laceration, a skin rash or a minor viral infection, costs about $150; a moderate-level visit, such as for a urinary tract infection with fever or a head injury without neurological symptoms, about $400; and a high-level visit, such as for chest pains that require multiple diagnostic tests or treatments, or severe burns or ingestion of a toxic substance, about $1,000, not including the doctor fees. At Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center[1] , a low-level emergency room visit costs about $220, including hospital charge and doctor fee, with the uninsured discount, while a moderate-level visit costs about $610 and a high-level visit about $1,400.
  • Services, diagnostic tests and laboratory fees add to the final bill. For example, Wooster Community Hospital, in Ohio, charges about $170 for a simple suture, $200 for a complex suture, about $170 for a minor procedure and about $400 for a major procedure, not including doctor fees, medicine or supplies.
  • A doctor fee could add hundreds or thousands of dollars to the final cost. For example, at Grand Lake Health System[2] in Ohio, an emergency room doctor charges about $100 for basic care, such as a wound recheck or simple laceration repair; about $300 for mid-level care, such as treatment of a simple fracture; about $870 for advanced-level care, such as frequent monitoring of vital signs and ordering multiple diagnostic tests, administering sedation or a blood transfusion for a seriously injured or ill patient; and about $1,450 for critical care, such as major trauma care or major burn care that could include chest tube insertion and management of IV medications and ventilator for a patient with a complex, life-threatening condition. At the Kettering Health Network, in Ohio, a low-level visit costs about $350, a high-level visit costs about $2,000 and critical care costs almost$1,700 for the first hour and $460 for each additional half hour; ER procedures or surgeries cost$460-$2,300.
  • According to the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality[3] the average emergency room expense in 2008 was $1,265.

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What should be included:
  • According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2008, about 18%of emergency room patients waited less than 15 minutes to see a doctor, about 37%waited 15 minutes to an hour, about 15% waited one to two hours, about 5% waited two to three hours, about 2% waited three to four hours, and about 1.5% waited four to six hours.
  • In some cases, the doctor might recommend the patient be admitted to the hospital. The American College of Emergency Physicians Foundation offers a guide[4] on what to expect.

Additional costs:

  • An ambulance ride typically costs $400-$1,200 or more, depending on the location and services performed.

Discounts:

  • An urgent care center offers substantial savings for more minor ailments. DukeHealth.org offers a guide[5] on when to seek urgent care. An urgent care visit typically costs between 20% and 50% of the cost of an emergency room visit. MainStreetMedica.com offers a cost-comparison tool for common ailments.
  • Hospitals often offer discounts of up to 50% or more for self-pay/uninsured emergency room patients. For example, Ventura County Medical Center[6] in California offers ER visits, including the doctor fee and emergency room fee but not including lab tests, X-rays or procedures, for $150 for patients up to 200% of the federal poverty level, for $225 for patients between 200% and 500% of the federal poverty level and $350 for patients from 500% to 700% of the federal poverty level.

Shopping for an emergency room visit:

  • The American College of Emergency Physicians Foundation offers a primer[7] on when to go to the emergency room.
  • In most cases, it is recommended to go to the nearest emergency room. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services offers a hospital-comparison tool[8] that lists hospitals near a chosen zip code.
Material on this page is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Always consult your physician or pharmacist regarding medications or medical procedures.

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