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No emergency room in US hospitals ?

  1. Apr 16, 2005 #1
    I have to take a trip from Europe to USA. Is it true that if you have no medical insurance you cannot be recovered in a hospital ? If you fall on the street with a heart attack that won't bring you to the hospital unless you are insured or pay?

    I think people who told me this are exaggerating. Exactly how does it work in the US if you need medical/hospital assistance ? Is it true you must pay very large sums of money if you are unfortunate and get sick there ?

    Thanks for letting me know really how it is!
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 16, 2005 #2

    Monique

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    You should ask your current insurance provider for a travel insurance to the US, or ask another agency like your bank. Maybe you also have to get reliability coverage, they would not let me go there without it (incase someone slips on a piece of paper you just dropped in a grocery store :wink:)

    I had a lot of hassle in the US, where offices only take certain insurance types.. but I wouldn't travel without insurance, you pay a little but you can benefit a lot.
     
  4. Apr 16, 2005 #3

    russ_watters

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    No, it isn't true. They are required to provide emergency care, at the very least. You're not going to get a free heart transplant though.
    Well, if you fall on the street with a heart attack and need an ambulance, an ambulance isn't cheap - its probably a good thousand dollars for the trip to the hospital. A night's stay in a hospital bed is another couple thousand.

    But if you get drunk, fall, and split your head open, its only a couple hundred bucks to sew you back together if someone drives you to the emergency room. Same, if you get the flu.
     
  5. Apr 16, 2005 #4

    Danger

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    I don't know what sort of resources are available to you. Insurance is definitely a good idea, even if it costs a lot. I belong to the Alberta Motor Association (gold membership for $95/year). It's saved me thousands in towing bills over the years, but they also have a travel agency. When I had to go to Las Vegas to play pool, they provided travel insurance through that. For $12 I was covered for medical care, including up to $1,100/day for hospitalization (this was 5 years ago; it might be more now), travel expenses and accommodation for a family member to fly down and stay with me, ambulance transport if necessary, and even replacement costs of lost luggage for the whole week that I was there. Luckily I never had to file a claim, but it sure took the worry out of the trip.
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2005
  6. Apr 16, 2005 #5
    They were exaggerating.

    Hospitals are required to provide certain kinds of emergency care as russ said, but without insurance there could be a hefty bill for it.
     
  7. Apr 16, 2005 #6
    Anyways, I doubt the Hippocrates oath tells the doctors to only provide medical assistance to those who are medically insured :tongue2:.
     
  8. Apr 16, 2005 #7
    No but it does tell the HMO doctors that they should not do expensive tests that might save a patients life if its "likely" the test will be negative. :grumpy:
     
  9. Apr 16, 2005 #8
    Come to the states and feel safe. Any hospital that accepts government or state funding{99% of them do} MUST take you as a emergency. Also they cannot hold you here until you pay.
     
  10. Apr 16, 2005 #9

    Evo

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    True, emergency care for life threatening situations is always provided. If you need to be taken to the hospital in an ambulance, you will be, no insurance or payment is required first. I have never seen an individual left on the street because he couldn't pay for an ambulance.

    A lot of accident victims aren't even concious or have any identification on them when they are taken to the hospital.
     
  11. Apr 16, 2005 #10

    cronxeh

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    if you ever end up in a University Hospital..

    ..pray they dont let the medical students treat ya :rofl:
     
  12. Apr 16, 2005 #11
    I lost consciousness once in Toronto, they took me to the emergency and next day I went home. After two-three weeks letter comes with a bill for an ambulance ride ; 35 $, for night in hospital 0 $ .
    If not for universal health coverage in Canada I would be homeless and begging for money on the streets, because I been to hospital many times since then .
    It is highest time for USA to adopt some kind of universal coverage because even poore nations like Brazil care for its people much more then in the States.
     
  13. Apr 16, 2005 #12

    cronxeh

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    We have other priorities in the US, apparently, if you havent noticed :biggrin:
     
  14. Apr 16, 2005 #13

    matthyaouw

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    So if I were to be walking the streets of the USA with very little money, and have to be rushed to the emergency room for some reason, and were then unable to pay for my treatment, what would happen?
     
  15. Apr 16, 2005 #14
    tough luck sucker :wink:
     
  16. Apr 16, 2005 #15

    Moonbear

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    As others have stated, hospitals are not allowed to turn away anyone who comes in, whether they can pay or not. However, if you have to go to the hospital for something that isn't a life-threatening emergency, you're going to sit for hours waiting because you are not their priority. They'll send you a bill later, and you better be near another emergency room when you get it, because the shock of reading it might kill you. There are quite a lot of people who owe huge amounts of money to hospitals that the hospitals have pretty much written off as unrecoverable. They charge more for their services than the actual services cost to cover those unrecovered expenses; this is our form of universal health coverage. :tongue2:

    Take the advice of others and look into traveler's insurance that includes health insurance for emergency room visits and hospitalization. While it will set you back a bit, you can probably afford treatment for minor illnesses, like seeing a physician for a mild case of food poisoning or other little things, but it's the ER and hospital stays that most people can't afford without insurance. In addition, look for one that will cover your transportation back to your own country, this way, if you end up with some long-term need for hospitalization, if you are stable enough to travel, you can be flown home to continue treatment in your home country.
     
  17. Apr 16, 2005 #16

    Moonbear

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    They'll keep sending you bills. The same for anything insurance doesn't cover (some insurance plans only pay 80%, and you have to pay the other 20% of the bill, which can still be a lot if you need long-term hospitalization). Hospitals are rather used to this scenario, as there are people who are poor and without insurance who get treated and they have nothing to take. For some, the hospitals just write it off as a loss. There's no hope of recovering hospital expenses from someone living on the street. For others, they'll work out payment plans. Basically, they look at it as whatever you can afford to pay, that's better than nothing. Some people can work out paying $100/month, and I've even known of some situations where people pay as little as $1/week because it's all they can afford. When someone mails in a copy of your death certificate with the bill and writes on it "Cannot Pay: Deceased" they usually stop trying to collect.
     
  18. Apr 16, 2005 #17

    Evo

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    When I went into the emergency room when I fell on that glass and it went through my knee, my bill for the hour I was there came to almost $3,000. This was for an x-ray and some stitches. There were bills from three doctors, although I only saw one, he even admitted he had to look at the x-ray himself since there was no one else in ER at the time, except a couple of nurses. (I live in a very quiet area). So, I was billed by doctors that I never saw and weren't involved. (I can hear it now "hey, some girl came in a few hours ago while you were gone and had an x-ray, see it? Heh, ooops, I've just consulted with you, haven't I, oh darn, now you'll have to send in your bill for $500 too!) :devil:

    Luckily I have insurance so I only got billed for my $40 emergency room co-pay.
     
  19. Apr 16, 2005 #18
    This is my experience also. My aunt went to a walk in clinic a few years ago because she did not have insurance. They tested her for strep and sent her home. She became more ill and by the time she finally saw a doctor it had been over a year. She was dioagnosed with cancer and after chemotherapy her cancer returned and now she is in hospice waiting to die. If she could have afforded the insurance she would have seen a better doctor much sooner and would have had a much better chance at living.

    Even after she was diagnosed with cancer she did not receive any finacial assistance for some time. She paid tens of thousands of dollars from her own pocket.
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2005
  20. Apr 16, 2005 #19

    Ivan Seeking

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    There was a time when this did happen. Back in the late 80's we began to experience our current crisis in health care - including hospitals going broke - and there were seriously injured people who were refused treatment. Since then legistlation was passed to prevent this from happening again.
     
  21. Apr 16, 2005 #20

    Ivan Seeking

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    Also, we have a serious shortage of trauma centers. This can delay treatment significantly; which can mean life or death. When I first started in the medical industry in 1980, you could find trauma centers in nearly any respectable city hospital. Now they are relatively scarce due to the operating costs - only the largest hospitals tend to be rated for trauma.
     
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