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November 10, 2016

Officials urge Trump to address coverage gaps for ER patients


WASHINGTON — The nation's emergency physicians urged President-elect Donald Trump to address the insurance coverage gaps that are affecting emergency patients, as part of his efforts to reform the nation's health care system. 

"Many people don't realize how little insurance coverage they have until they need emergency care, and then they are shocked at how little their insurance companies pay," Dr. Rebecca Parker, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians, said. "Health insurance companies mislead patients by selling so-called 'affordable' policies that cover very little, until large deductibles are met — and then blame medical providers for charges." 

Dr. Parker said that emergency physicians are committed to working with the new Congress and the President to address the critical issues facing patients.

"Patients can't choose where and when they will need emergency care and should not be punished financially for having emergencies," Dr. Parker said. "The growth of out-of-pocket costs and the reductions of in-network physicians and hospitals are leaving people with health insurance barely covered in an emergency." 

Emergency physicians support expanding health insurance coverage to all patients and are advocating for transparency and use of independent databases by insurance companies to calculate payments. 

"State and federal policymakers need to ensure that health insurance plans provide adequate rosters of physicians, affordable deductibles, co-pays and fair payment for emergency services," Dr. Parker said. "We encourage all patients to investigate what their health insurance policy covers and demand fair and reasonable coverage for emergency care."

Dr. Parker said emergency medicine is essential to America, providing lifesaving and critical care to millions of patients each year. Emergency physicians represent only 4 percent of all doctors, but provide care for 28 percent of all acute care visits, 50 percent of all Medicaid and CHIP visits and 67 percent of acute care given to uninsured patients.