Billing and Payment for Hospital ED Encounters

Charges by hospitals for emergency department visit services have changed drastically over the past 30 years.  In 1980, hospitals primarily charged all patients the same amount for visit services, regardless of what services they required.  Many patients were charged much less than the cost to provide the service.  Over the 30 succeeding years, hospital charges have morphed from a single average charge assigned to all patients to a five level charge system, plus critical care.  The national average charges for each of the visit levels have also increased dramatically.   Visit charges billed in 2010 hospital emergency department visits averaged 400% to 500% more than the reported Medicare payment. This paper reviews and discusses the course of those changes.

What charges are associated with an emergency visit?

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