The Financial Impact of Uncompensated Care in the Emergency Department
International Journal of Economy, Energy and Environment
Volume 2, Issue 6, December 2017, Pages: 104-108
Received: Oct. 30, 2017; Accepted: Nov. 20, 2017; Published: Dec. 14, 2017
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Pamela Treister, Department of Nursing, New York Institute of Technology, Old Westbury, New York, USA
Ruth Conboy, Department of Student Affairs, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Philadelphia, USA
Lori Smittle, Westchester County Department of Health, Westchester, New York, USA
Christina Carter, Workforce Analytics for Healthcare, Kronos Inc., Arizona, USA
Leah Lucarelli, Cornell Scott-Hill Health Center, New Haven, Connecticut, USA
Erin Kampa, Norwalk Community Health Center, Norwalk, USA
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Prior to 1986, emergency department staff was both morally and ethically obligated to provide care that included the stabilization and treatment of all patients who presented to the emergency department, regardless of their ability to pay. In 1986, this moral and ethical obligation became federal law with the passage of the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA), which required any patient coming to an emergency department be stabilized and treated regardless of their insurance status or ability to pay [1] [2]. Hospital emergency departments are a critical entry point into the American health care system. The patient population is a combination of the privately insured, including high deductible health plans, the uninsured, and the underinsured. Although emergency treatment is covered under EMTALA, hospitals are left to deal with the bills accumulated from non-emergent daily medical care. The increase in volume places tremendous burden on hospital emergency departments, with high overhead and fixed costs. Many facilities cannot keep up with costs and are forced into bankruptcy, leading to overcrowding in nearby hospitals. More thought must be placed on how hospitals can bear the burden of uncompensated care. Access to care is not enough; it’s crucial that care be affordable. Addressing uncompensated care in the emergency department can be done successfully. The staff is proficient in saving lives, now they must learn to put the same effort into saving money.
EMTALA, Affordable Care Act, Uninsured, Underinsured, Undocumented Immigrants, Emergency Care
To cite this article
Pamela Treister, Ruth Conboy, Lori Smittle, Christina Carter, Leah Lucarelli, Erin Kampa, The Financial Impact of Uncompensated Care in the Emergency Department, International Journal of Economy, Energy and Environment. Vol. 2, No. 6, 2017, pp. 104-108. doi: 10.11648/j.ijeee.20170206.13
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