Physicians and patients alike have been vocal in their disapproval of Anthem’s policy of denying claims for emergency room visits that are ultimately declared nonemergent—the main criticisms being that it forces patients to self-diagnosis to some extent and that it ultimately may discourage patients from getting emergency care when they really do need it. Now the Indianapolis Recorder newspaper charges the policy is going to have the greatest negative impact on low-income patients, based on the presumption that urgent care centers tend to be more plentiful in higher-income communities. Anthem’s policy was first implemented in Georgia, Kentucky, and Missouri but has expanded to include Indiana, New Hampshire, and Ohio. The company says the goal is to reduce ED overcrowding and cut costs. The Recorder article quoted an official from the Indiana NAACP who said patients’ concerns about the symptoms that drive them to seek care should be a bigger factor in determining whether or not ED visits should be covered. “Maybe it’s not life-threatening, but they’re scared,” said Barbara Bolling Williams.
Anthem Faces Charges Its Already-Unpopular ED Policy is Harder on Low-Income Patients