Q: What Will Happen if I Go to the Hospital Without Insurance?
Asked by Anonymous on August 17, 2018
At the Hospital: If you end up at the hospital without health insurance, doctors and medical professionals are required to treat you no matter what. They won’t deny you as a patient in need. This is because the Emergency Medical Treatment And Labor Act or EMTALA “[ensures] that any individual with an emergency medical condition, regardless of the individual’s insurance coverage, is not denied essential lifesaving services.”
However, if you don’t have health insurance, you’ll still pay medical bills for services. These treatment costs increase exponentially without coverage.
Who Pays for Medical Bills: Depending on your plan, your health insurance pays for a portion of medical services, including doctor’s visits, prescription drugs, and emergency room trips. You’ll pay the rest of the amount in the form of a copayment or coinsurance. However, without coverage, you’ll be paying the entire bill from the hospital. Each hospital sets their own prices for different services.
Negotiate Your Hospital Bills: Hospitals may offer uninsured individuals discount plans so you can pay in specific periods of time. Installments will likely be split up over the course of the year (one bill each month), so you can regularly pay off your treatment costs.
You can also search for hospital programs called “charity care” that assist you financially. If you qualify for this service, the amount owed will be adjusted to your ability. Even applying for charity care may halt any bill collectors.
Visit an Urgent Care Center: If you’re not experiencing a true emergency, you should see if an urgent care center is nearby. Medical professionals at urgent care can help you treat your illness or injury. These services can cost less than a trip to the ER, although you may have to pay in advance if you don’t have health insurance.
Covering Your Visit With Health Insurance: While the number of people with health insurance has increased in recent years, some people continue to live without health coverage. The individual mandate was passed as a part of the Affordable Care Act, requiring Americans to sign up for health insurance or pay a tax penalty. This financial incentive led many to compare and choose a health plan that best suited their needs.
Signing up for health insurance during the Open Enrollment Period helps you avoid these scary scenarios – you’ll worry less about financial matters if you find yourself in the ER when you’re covered.