Patients Reporting “Surprise Bills” From Urgent Care Centers

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According to a recent report from USA Today, patients could expect an increase in fees at their local urgent care center. The report documents multiple patients claiming to share the same problem: deceptive fees.

When visiting their local urgent care centers, patients usually could expect a short wait time (less than 20 minutes for almost 69% of urgent care facilities) and a short receipt, if they had the right insurance. But now, many patients are being told incorrect information about their insurance coverage.

“I received a bill from a doctor for $356,” said Sallyann Johnson, a 62-year-old Milwaukee native. Johnson fell and injured both wrists and hands, and before she went to her local urgent care clinic, she called ahead to be sure that they accepted her insurance. She was told that the center would, but she later received a bill nonetheless. She added, “I felt I asked all the right questions.”

Most patients seek out urgent care centers in an attempt to save money in the event that a minor illness or injury doesn’t warrant the bill (or the wait time) of an emergency room visit. But now, it looks like urgent care patients might see changes in their insurance participation with certain centers, and may even fall victim to the “surprise bill.” These bills, also known as “balance bills,” claim additional costs that are determined by hospitals and doctors who are out-of-network of your insurance.

To avoid unexpected fees, check into which emergency centers near you will take your insurance. Be sure to ask about the doctor you see, as well, because if they’re a contracted specialist, they could charge you separately from the center itself.

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