Are Free Standing ER’s Really More Expensive?

Dispelling the Myth about the Pricetag on Freestanding ERs

The first free standing ER, or freestanding emergency rooms in Texas started operating back in 2010, and even though eight years have passed there is still a lot of misinformation and confusion about the type of service these centers provide and more specifically, the cost of these services.

In recent months, a lot of media outlets have been reporting stories claiming that free-standing emergency rooms are overcharging customers for their treatments. These reports are misleading, and confusing for the public and unfair to the free-standing emergency centers.

Most of the misinformation and confusion comes from a poor understanding of what a free-standing emergency room is.

What is a Free-Standing Emergency Room?

A free-standing emergency room is a medical facility that is licensed by the state to provide 24-hour emergency care to patients.

A free-standing ER offers the same high-quality care and utilizes the same high-quality equipment and technology as a hospital-based emergency room. Just as a hospital ER, free-standing ER’s like Altus Emergency Centers are always required to have a board-certified Emergency Medicine physician or ER trained MD’s on site, they must be opened 24-hours a day every day of the year, and have advanced lifesaving, imagining and laboratories within the facility.

This means that a Free-Standing ER operates under the same strict standards of a hospital ER, the only difference being that Free-Standing Emergency Rooms are not physically attached to a hospital facility.

FreeStanding-ER

Are Free Standing Emergency Rooms More Expensive?

In a study published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine in December of 2017, the researchers concluded that the average cost of a visit to a Free-Standing Emergency Room was cheaper or comparable to a similar visit to a Hospital-Based Emergency Room.

According to the study, the average price of a visit to a Free-Standing ER in 2015 was $2,199 while the average cost of a visit to a Hospital-Based ER was $2,259.

The study shows that although not all treatments, procedures or tests performed at Free-Standing Emergency Rooms were necessarily cheaper, the pricing is comparable to those of a Hospital-Based Emergency Department. To better illustrate how close the pricing structure between Free-Standing and Hospital-Based ER’s is here are some of the findings published in the study.

Diagnosis or ProcedureFree-Standing ER PricingHospital-Based ER Pricing
Fracture of Upper Limb$1,783$2,263
Open Wounds of Neck, Head, and Trunk$1,494$1,721
CT Scan of Abdomen/Pelvis$1,560$1,625
ECG$155$235
Transportation Services$171$456

Dispelling the Myth

At Altus Emergency Centers, our biggest concern is that patients won’t seek the necessary medical attention they need out of fear of being overcharged. Because of this, we feel the need to dispel the myth that we are more expensive than Hospital-Based ER’s.

Our facilities were created to provide convenience by allowing patients to be treated faster than they would be at a Hospital-Based ER were overcrowding has been an issue for years. According to ProPublica’s ER Wait Watcher, the average wait time for an ER patient to see a doctor in the state of Texas is 19 minutes, most Free-Standing ER’s advertise a maximum wait time of 10 minutes, at Altus Emergency Centers patients see a doctor as soon as they come in, there is no wait time.

Our facilities also strive to make emergency care more accessible to those communities who don’t have a hospital nearby.

Altus Emergency Centers provides the same quality emergency medical attention as any Hospital-Based ER, with the added benefits of convenience, nicer facilities, and more personalized treatment for the same price.

WaitingInLine

Know Where to Go In the Event of an Emergency

If you are ever in need of quality emergency care, you will not have to wait in line at Altus Emergency Centers.

All of our ERs are fully equipped and open 24/7.  Don’t let mislead information effect where you choose your ER care.  Our promise to you is to always serve with the very best medical technology, caring and knowledgeable ER trained staff, low wait times and hassle-free billing.

Patient Advocates, You Can Call!

Altus Emergency Patient Advocates are here to help you.  We help you decipher the complexity of the medical industry to uncover how it can be most beneficial to you.  We have focused our efforts on helping people better understand their insurance plans and how our billing works.

Our Patient Advocates department is available to help patients with everything billing related from reviewing health insurance claims to aiding in the event of an appeal of payment denial by their insurance provider. Our priority is and always been the wellbeing of our patients, and our doctors follow care protocols to ensure the best medical care is provided.

If you have any questions regarding your billing, please don’t hesitate to contact our Patient Advocate Department.  Please feel free to call 469-383-7361 between 8:00 am and 5:00 pm and ask for the Patient Advocate.

Altus Emergency Centers Texas is Here for You 24/7

altus emergency 24 hr ER Texas

Altus Emergency Centers are all open 24/7/365, with no lines. Our facilities are well-equipped to diagnose and treat everything from major to minor adult and pediatric emergencies.  We are honored to be a part of our beautiful Texas communities and work hard each day to help see them grow and prosper!

24 Hour ER Services – Best in Texas

Looking for the best quality 24 hour ER services?

We offer the best freestanding 24 hour ER services in Texas. We have top of the line medical technology and highly experienced ER healthcare experts prepped and ready to come to your aid in Baytown, Lake Jackson, Lumberton, and Waxahachie.

Each ER team is highly efficient in treating chest and abdominal pains, pediatric emergencies, flu symptoms, sports injuries, bone breaks, as well as all other major and minor injuries. All services are available 24/7, including weekends and holidays with little to no wait times.

Honey Pacifiers Trigger Infant Botulism Alert by Health Officials

Health Officials Urge Texans to Not Give Children Under 12 Months of Age Honey

Honey Pacifiers Trigger Infant Botulism Alert

The Texas Department of State Health Services is warning parents and other adults not to give babies pacifiers containing honey after four babies were treated for botulism in Texas. Each infant had been given a honey-containing pacifier purchased in Mexico.

The four illnesses occurred from mid-August to the end of October and caused all four babies to be hospitalized for life-saving treatment. The unrelated infants are residents of West Texas, North Texas and South Texas.

What is Botulism?

Botulism is a rare but serious illness caused by a neurotoxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum.  When ingested, the bacteria releases a toxin which attacks the body’s nerves and can cause difficulty breathing, paralysis and even death.

What is Infant Botulism?

As we grow and develop, we acquire more “good” bacteria in our bodies to fight any that may be damaging and make us much more resiliant to getting sick.  However, as infants are still in the process of of acquiring these natural internal superheros, they must be shielding from potential threats until their system is ready.  For this reason, infants are are particularly vulerable to infant botulism with 90% of the cases ocurring in babies less than 6 months old. Botulinum spores may be found in dirt and honey which, if consumed, the spores can germinate into bacteria within their small intestine. 

Avoid botulinum

Infant Botulism and Honey

According to medical experts, a baby’s intestinal microflora (normal flora) is not sufficiently developed to ingest botulinum spores. As spores of the bacteria, found in dirt and dust, can contaminate honey, it’s best to wait until a child is one year old (12 months) before they may consume it.

“The DSHS issued a health alert today asking health care providers to look out for cases of infant botulism and to remind parents not to let babies eat honey. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics have long advised that children under 12 months old should not consume honey.”

Quality honey is rich in antioxidants and delivers a wealth of health benefits, however, it’s best to not give it to any infant under 12 months of age.

 

Infant Botulism Alert

The Culprit: Honey-Filled Pacifers

“Honey-filled pacifiers, chupones con miel in Spanish, are not common in the United States but may be available in some specialty stores and through online retailers. Most aren’t designed for the honey to be consumed, but some have a small hole so a child could eat the honey, or the pacifier could accidentally rupture or leak. Parents should also avoid pacifiers containing any other food substance, because they could also pose a risk of botulism.” – The Texas Department of State Health Services.

Botulism Symptoms in Infants:

Symptoms in infants often include:

  • Constipation
  • Lethargy
  • Generalized weakness (the “Floppy” baby syndrome)
  • Poor feeding
  • Drooling
  • Weak cry
  • Poor head control
  • Poor gag and sucking reflex

Know Where to Go In the Event of an Emergency

If you are ever in need of quality emergency care, you will not have to wait in line at Altus Emergency Centers. All of our ERs are fully equipped and open 24/7.

Altus Emergency Centers Texas is Here for You 24/7

altus emergency 24 hr ER Texas

Altus Emergency Centers are all open 24/7/365, with no lines. Our facilities are well-equipped to diagnose and treat everything from major to minor adult and pediatric emergencies.  We are honored to be a part of our beautiful Texas communities and work hard each day to help see them grow and prosper!

24 Hour ER Services – Best in Texas

Looking for the best quality 24 hour ER services?

We offer the best freestanding 24 hour ER services in Texas. We have top of the line medical technology and highly experienced ER healthcare experts prepped and ready to come to your aid in Baytown, Lake Jackson, Lumberton, and Waxahachie.

Each ER team is highly efficient in treating chest and abdominal pains, pediatric emergencies, flu symptoms, sports injuries, bone breaks, as well as all other major and minor injuries. All services are available 24/7, including weekends and holidays with little to no wait times.

How to Avoid the Flu

Bypass the Misery of Flu Season

How to Avoid the Flu

The dreaded flu season is fast approaching, and we know nobody wants to feel miserable for 2 whole weeks, and if you are a parent then you know it is going to be a domino effect, one by one everyone in the household will fall ill.

The flu isn’t a simple cold, the symptoms are much more severe and for those individuals who are high-risk: adults over the age of 65, children under the age of 6, women who are pregnant or anyone with a chronic disease like diabetes, asthma, or cardiovascular disease, complications from the flu can prove deadly.

As part of our ongoing commitment to help the members of our community stay healthy and avoid the flu (influenza) and other viral infections, the medical staff at Altus Emergency Centers would like to share some important facts and safety tips to avoid getting bedridden this season.

Not so Fun Facts About the Influenza Virus

Flu-Virus

Know the Flu Facts

  • The flu is caused by various strains of the virus that mutates constantly, this is the reason why a new flu vaccine is released every year.
  • It is estimated that anywhere between 140,000 to 710,000 people are year are hospitalized due to the flu.
  • The CDC estimated that the number of deaths associated with the 2017 – 2018 flu season at 80,000 which was a significant increase in relation to the previous years 2015-2016 which was between 12,000 and 56,000.
  • As of October 27th, 2018, the CDC has reported a total of 185 pediatric deaths for the 2017-2018 season.
  • The flu virus can travel up to 6 feet with every time someone infected coughs or sneezes.
  • An individual can be contagious 1-4 days before symptoms manifest and can remain contagious for another 5-7 days after symptoms begin.

How to Avoid the Flu Season Blues

The flu is a viral respiratory illness.  This means that anyone can easily become ill by coming into contact with airborne droplets from an infected individual.  Due to the fact that contaminated droplets can travel up to 6 feet when someone coughs or sneezes, it is very difficult to avoid contact altogether, but there are ways to safeguard yourself and your loved ones to avoid the flu.

Get Vaccinated as Early in the Season as Possible

You can still contract the virus from someone else up to 2-weeks after getting vaccinated, so early vaccination is important.

The yearly flu shot will protect you from 3-4 flu strains that are predicted to cause the most damage that year. Also, it can help you recover from the illness faster, often avoiding 2-4 days in bed.  Most importantly, it helps prevent serious complications from the flu such as pneumonia, bronchitis, and ear or sinus infections.  The small prick of a needle is better than days or weeks of agony.  Avoid the flu by getting vaccinated early on each year.

Become Obsessed with Good Hygiene

Avoid the flu and other viruses by washing your heads with soap and water frequently.  This is especially important when you are at work, or after riding public transportation, as you could come in contact with the virus and not know it.

Teach your children to wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water, and not to share food and drinks with their friends.

If you don’t have access to soap and water, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer is a good substitute, also keep antibacterial cleaning towels handy, so you can clean your desk and other surfaces with regularity.

Take Good Care of Yourself

A healthy immune system will be instrumental in helping your body avoid and fight the flu virus. Make sure you are getting plenty of sleep, a recent study conducted by Carnegie Mellon University concluded that getting at least 8 hours of sleep a night decreases the chances of getting a cold or flu by 30%.

How do I avoid the flu by being healthy? We recommend that you maintain a well-balanced diet, avoid fatty foods, and too many sweets that are plentiful this time of year, make sure to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.  Also, make sure to stay away from other bad habits such as smoking or drinking alcohol in excess.

When Should You Visit the ER?

Altus Emergency Doctors ER

Regardless of how careful you are, sometimes getting sick with the flu is unavoidable, and unfortunately, the symptoms will make you feel miserable for a few days, but, there are some warning signs that could signal flu complications that will require medical attention:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, these are not normal symptoms of the flu, if you experience them it could be something more serious such as an asthma attack, or pneumonia.
  • Chest Pain, this could be a signal heart disease, and you should get immediate medical care.
  • A persistent cough especially one accompanied by phlegm, if you notice blood in your phlegm, go to the nearest Altus ER Center immediately.
  • If you are suffering from confusion or sudden dizziness, there are several reasons why you could be feeling this way, so, it is best to get a proper diagnosis from a healthcare professional.
  • Severe and persistent vomiting, this could lead to dehydration, and you may require intravenous fluids.
  • Pain or trouble swallowing, although a sore throat can be a symptom of the flu if you experience severe pain or have trouble while swallowing, it could be you have strep throat.
  • Persistent fever, a fever lasting more than 3 days could mean you have a bacterial infection and require antibiotics.
  • If your cough, fever, or other symptoms return in the second week after the onset of the flu or if your symptoms never get better and instead become worse, you may be developing pneumonia.

Altus Emergency Centers is here for you during the worst of the flu season and the rest of year 24/7.  We hope you don’t fall victim to the flu virus this year, but if you do, and you show any of the above signs, visit your nearest Altus ER.  We will be here to nurse you and your loved ones back to health and enjoying the upcoming holidays.

Know Where to Go In the Event of an Emergency

If you are ever in need of quality emergency care, you will not have to wait in line at Altus Emergency Centers. All of our ERs are fully equipped and open 24/7.

Altus Emergency Centers Texas is Here for You 24/7

altus emergency 24 hr ER Texas

Altus Emergency Centers are all open 24/7/365, with no lines. Our facilities are well-equipped to diagnose and treat everything from major to minor adult and pediatric emergencies. We are honored to be a part of our beautiful Texas communities and work hard each day to help see them grow and prosper!

24 Hour ER Services – Best in Texas

Looking for the best quality 24 hour ER services?

We offer the best freestanding 24 hour ER services in Texas. We have top of the line medical technology and highly experienced ER healthcare experts prepped and ready to get you well fast in Baytown, Lake Jackson, Lumberton, and Waxahachie.

Each ER team is highly efficient in treating chest and abdominal pains, pediatric emergencies, flu symptoms, sports injuries, bone breaks, as well as all other major and minor injuries. All services are available 24/7, including weekends and holidays with little to no wait times.

Tips to Choosing Your Healthcare Plan Wisely

What to Ask When Choosing Your Healthcare Plan

The 2019 open enrollment period opened on November 1st and ends on December 15th, 2018, this means that many of us are actively shopping for the health care plan that bests suits our needs and budget.

To get the most out of our medical insurance plans, we must understand how the plans work, and what they cover. State and Federal insurance laws obligate insurers to include certain benefits and provide certain protections; however, insurers offer different plans from which you can choose, some will provide more coverage and protection than others, but this usually means the extra coverage comes at a price.

When you are shopping for healthcare coverage, insurance companies will provide a summary of each of their plans, this information will help you choose the right plan for you and your family. But, keep in mind the insurers won’t provide all the details of the plan until you have enrolled in the plan.

healthcare-plan

What is a Healthcare Policy?

For all intent and purposes, a health care policy is a legal contract between you and the health insurance company or health maintenance organization (HMO). When you enroll in a program, the insurance company or HMO will provide a copy of the contract, this will give detailed information about what your rights and responsibilities are under the plan.

For more information on the types of plans offered in Texas, please visit the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI)

healthcare insurance

Can I Cancel the Plan If I am Not Satisfied with the Coverage?

Yes, when you receive your copy of the policy detailing all the benefits, it is essential you read it carefully, especially if you have any special health needs. This will be the first time you are seeing the details of the coverage you will receive, and it’s important for you to know that if you are not satisfied with the policy, you have 10 days to return it and get a refund of your premium.

What is the Best Way to Compare Plans?

When you are shopping for medical insurance, ask the provider for their summary of benefits and coverage. This is the best way for you to compare healthcare plans as this document uses a standardized format making it easier to compare one item to another.

This summary outlines the basic coverage and cost of the plan you are interested in and will include the following:

  • Benefits and Exclusions
  • Links to Your Preferred Provider Directory and Drug Formulary
  • Deductible Amount
  • Coinsurance and Copayment Amounts
  • Out-of-Pocket limits
  • Referral Requirements
Medical-plan-patient

Always Ask About Emergency Medical Coverage

State and Federal laws obligate insurance companies to include Emergency Medical coverage in their policies. However, as we mentioned before, how much is covered can change from one plan to the next. As of August 6th, 2018, the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) approved a controversial new program which grants the largest Health Insurance company in Texas to deny payments for some ER visits. Therefore, it is crucial to ask how your plan will process emergency medical treatment and ER visits before you enroll.

Can You Appeal a Deny of Payment on ER Treatments?

Absolutely, every consumer has the right to appeal the insurance company’s decision to not pay for treatment received in the ER.

According to the TDI, they received assurances from the insurance company that patients will have the right to have their doctor debate the treatment plan provided with the insurer doctor before a denial of payment was issued, and patients will be able to appeal the denial with an independent review organization.

Altus Emergency Center’s Patient Advocate department is available to patients review their health insurance claims and to aid in the event of an appeal of payment denial. Our priority is and always been the wellbeing of our patients, and our doctors follow care protocols to ensure the best medical care is provided.

Healthcare-claim

Know Where to Go In the Event of an Emergency

If you are ever in need of quality emergency care, you will not have to wait in line at Altus Emergency Centers. All of our ERs are fully equipped and open 24/7.

Altus Emergency Centers Texas is Here for You 24/7

altus emergency 24 hr ER Texas

Altus Emergency Centers are all open 24/7/365, with no lines. Our facilities are well-equipped to diagnose and treat everything from major to minor adult and pediatric emergencies.  We are honored to be a part of our beautiful Texas communities and work hard each day to help see them grow and prosper!

24 Hour ER Services – Best in Texas

Looking for the best quality 24 hour ER services?

We offer the best freestanding 24 hour ER services in Texas. We have top of the line medical technology and highly experienced ER healthcare experts prepped and ready to get you well fast in Baytown, Lake Jackson, Lumberton, and Waxahachie.

Each ER team is highly efficient in treating chest and abdominal pains, pediatric emergencies, flu symptoms, sports injuries, bone breaks, as well as all other major and minor injuries. All services are available 24/7, including weekends and holidays with little to no wait times.

Explanation of Benefits. What You Need to Know

Understanding the Explanation of Benefits

If you’ve been to the doctor or the ER recently and used your health insurance to help pay for the treatment, then you can expect to receive an Explanation of Benefits in the mail soon. But, what is this document, what should you do when you get it, and why is it important?

What do you need to know

What is an Explanation of Benefits?

Simply put, an Explanation of Benefits (EOB), is a notification to let you know when your health care benefits claim has been processed by your insurance company.

It’s important to understand that an explanation of benefits is not a health care bill. The EOB will detail the expenses that were submitted by the healthcare provider (doctor, hospital, ER, urgent care center, etc.) and lets you know how the claim was processed.

What do you need to know

What Information Does Your EOB Include?

There is no standard format for an explanation of benefits, however, most include three main sections:

  • Total of Claim or Claims: Your EOB might contain more than one claim. The notification will highlight all the financial information about each claim, including:
    • Total Amount Billed by the Healthcare Provider
    • Total Benefits Approved by the Insurance Company Based on Your Plan Coverage
    • Any Amount Owed to the Healthcare Provider
  • Service Detail: Here you will find a list of all the services you or your dependent received from the healthcare provider. This section should include:
    • The Name of the Doctor or Facility You Attended
    • Date of Services
    • Date of Charges – Both Billed and Allowed

Some Insurance Companies Display any Additional Savings that Your Plan Provides Such as Provider Discounts and Other Deductions

Summary: This Will Show You a Clear Picture of Your Deductible, Copays, And Health Spending Accounts if Applicable.

Additional information regarding amounts not covered, and out-of-pocket expenses might also be included.

What do you need to know

What Should You Do When You Receive an EOB?

Your explanation of benefits is an essential record of claims for any medical services and benefit coverage, and you should hold on to it for at least 18 months, preferably two years in case any questions or disputes arise from about your claim or your bill.

What do you need to know

What Do You Need to Check on Your Explanation of Benefits?

When you first receive your EOB, you should carefully check the information it contains, and pay close attention to the following:

  • Make sure your personal information is correct if not, it could be a simple mistake, but in the worst-case scenario it could be someone trying to use your identity
  • Ensure you are not being billed for a service you did not receive. If your EOB contains more than one claim, make sure you are not being charged twice for the same service.
  • Make sure which doctor or health care provider submitted the claim and cross check it with your records to make sure there are no mistakes.
What do you need to know

What Happens if the Insurance Company Doesn’t Pay the Whole Amount?

If your healthcare plan doesn’t cover the whole amount of the services you received, then the health care provider will send you a bill for the amount owed.

You do not have to pay anything until you receive the bill, and never pay more than the amount the explanation of benefits says you owe. If you are billed more than what the EOB says, you should contact your insurance company immediately, so they can investigate this matter.

If your insurance company didn’t pay anything, find out why, it could be that you have not met your annual deductible, but, it could also be a mistake on their part, if that is the case you need to submit an appeal.

 

Altus Emergency Centers has focused its efforts on helping people better understand their insurance plans and how our billing works. If you have any questions regarding your billing, please don’t hesitate to call our Patient Advocate Department, it will be our pleasure to assist you.

What do you need to know

Know Where to Go In the Event of an Emergency

If you are ever in need of quality emergency care, you will not have to wait in line at Altus Emergency Centers. All of our ERs are fully equipped and open 24/7.

Altus Emergency Centers Texas is Here for You 24/7

altus emergency 24 hr ER Texas

Altus Emergency Centers are all open 24/7/365, with no lines. Our facilities are well-equipped to diagnose and treat everything from major to minor adult and pediatric emergencies.  We are honored to be a part of our beautiful Texas communities and work hard each day to help see them grow and prosper!

24 Hour ER Services – Best in Texas

Looking for the best quality 24 hour ER services?

We offer the best freestanding 24 hour ER services in Texas. We have top of the line medical technology and highly experienced ER healthcare experts prepped and ready to come to your aid in Baytown, Lake Jackson, Lumberton, and Waxahachie.

Each ER team is highly efficient in treating chest and abdominal pains, pediatric emergencies, flu symptoms, sports injuries, bone breaks, as well as all other major and minor injuries. All services are available 24/7, including weekends and holidays with little to no wait times.

HEALTH NEWS, EVENTS & MORE.

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