Freestanding emergency rooms have been roundly criticized for their billing practices, most often as a result of “surprise bills” that patients don’t feel they should have to pay and insurers absolutely refuse to consider. In addition to angering patients and inspiring legislators to draft new consumer-protection laws, though, many freestanding ER companies are having a tough time getting paid at all. Adeptus, considered the leading provider in the industry, has been especially hard hit. Its stock price has tumbled from over $120 a share to just $2.50. Analysts say it’s because investors may be losing faith in the business model. They simply have a hard time collecting on all their bills. VMG Health reported that where freestanding ERs used to boast they could break even by seeing four patients a day, the break-even point has ballooned to 12 patients/day. If anything, the turbulence could provide additional incentive for the freestanding ER companies to make their charges and billing procedures clearer to patients at the outset so they can make an informed decision about whether they really need to be there, or would be better off visiting an urgent care center.
Collection Problems Are Hurting Freestanding ER Sector