Majority supports insurance coverage for ER visits, new poll finds
Nearly every one of 1,791 people surveyed by the American College of Emergency Physicans believe emergency room visits should be covered by insurance. The organization is concerned because some Americans will lose benefits under the new health care bill under consideration in Congress.
Under the GOP health care plan, supported by President Donald Trump, states would decide what essential benefits Medicaid would cover, said Dr. Rebecca Parker, college president.
"We're concerned about that because we've seen states not include emergency services," Parker said. "We don't want people worried about whether or not they should go to the emergency department."
In a recent presentation, Parker said such hesitation can prove fatal.
"I treated a patient myself in the emergency department last year who waited much too long to seek care for chest pain, and by the time he got to me, it was too late. And this tragedy could have been avoided, but my patient's fear of costs overrode everything," she explained.
Eighty-three percent of poll respondents said that if you think you're having a heart attack — but an ER doctor determines it's a panic attack — then that visit should still be covered by insurance. That's according to the "prudent layperson standard," meaning patients are covered based on possibly life-threatening symptoms, rather than the final diagnosis.
The prudent layperson definition is part of the Affordable Care Act.
"We've seen some Medicaid, in particular, payers, and private insurers go back after an emergency department visit and deny coverage based on a symptom list," Parker said.
Parker said the poll provides data that she and her organization can take up to Capitol Hill to show legislators as they consider how to proceed with the Obamacare replacement bill.