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With no one being infallible, mistakes are going to happen. While some that occur in the field of medicine have lifelong consequences, most are minor, easily fixed, and soon forgotten. Unless they’re so colossal that they make national headlines, like the case of a Texas man who went to the wrong freestanding emergency room for a test after being exposed to COVID-19 and wound up getting socked with a bill for $56,384. As reported by NPR, the patient took the matter up with his insurer, which was able to negotiate with the freestanding ED’s operator to reduce the bill—down to $16,915.20, which the insurer paid in full. As the patient told NPR, he was relieved to not have to pay anything at all, but also that he’s aware that ultimately the cost will be passed along to consumers. While this is an extreme example that the operator chalked up to “a billing error,” the freestanding ER industry is notorious for runaway costs and deceptive pricing. Further, the freestanding ED operator we’ve chosen not to name has nonetheless been in the headlines on a national level. Urgent care’s reputation is in far better shape. Do what you can to ensure it stays that way with price and insurance transparency. (And do yourself and your patients the favor of making it clear that your facility is an urgent care center, and not a freestanding emergency room.)

It Pays to Get Billing Right the First Time—Ask the Freestanding ER That Billed $50K+ for a COVID-19 Test