Friday, December 30, 2005

Study: Nearly half of all ER physician care goes uncompensated

From the Orlando Business Journal, via Chris Perrin:

Increased numbers of uninsured patients coming into Florida emergency rooms may worsen overcrowding, adversely affect quality of care and lead more ERs to close their doors, a new University of South Florida study shows.

USF researchers surveyed 188 Florida hospital emergency physician groups about the uncompensated care they provided in 1998. The 83 physician groups responding provided substantial uncompensated emergency care, ranging from 26 to 79 percent with an average of nearly 47 percent.

Uncompensated services are those for which no payment is received from either the patient or from a public or private insurer, such as charity care for patients who cannot afford to pay, bad debt from patients who choose not to pay their portion of the bill and denial of payment for emergency services by health plans.

The study also shows that emergency physician groups providing the highest levels of free care tended to practice in urban hospitals serving large populations of Medicaid and uninsured patients.

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