Observation units may ease burdens of ER care, but at what cost to patients?

Hospitals are now opting to move people from the emergency room and directly into “outpatient” style monitoring units where they can undergo further testing before it’s determined by a doctor whether or not they should be admitted to the hospital or returned home.

For example if a patient is experiencing chest pain, the hospital may keep them for an extended time for an EKG or stress test. The results of these tests can help decide whether the situation is critical or not.

Yet while there is a benefit to receiving immediate attention for a medical concern, insurance providers typically charge this as an “outpatient procedure” and patients are forced to pay a la carte for each test done. Compared to an inpatient stay, the costs can be¬†exponential.

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