Source: The Center for Improving Value in Health Care (CIVHC)
Free Standing Emergency Departments are Being Used for Non-Emergent Care at Higher Prices
Emergency Facilities Costing Coloradans More for the Same Care
DENVER – July 6, 2016 – A new report from the Center for Improving Value in Health Care (CIVHC) finds that Coloradans using new free standing emergency departments (FSEDs) for non-life threatening conditions are paying more than if they had used an urgent care facility.
The analysis is based on 2014 claims in the Colorado All Payer Claims Database (CO APCD).
In the last two years, dozens of FSEDs have opened in Colorado, most often located in suburban areas relatively close to urgent care and in-hospital emergency departments. Due to their stand-alone buildings and similarity to non-emergency options, it is possible for consumers to mistake an FSED for an urgent care center.
According to data available in the CO APCD, of the top 10 reasons Coloradans used an FSED in 2014, seven were non-life threatening. Sore throats, bronchitis, and finger wounds were among the top 10 common conditions seen at FSEDs. For all seven non-life threatening conditions, prices were $400 to over $800 more for treatment at an emergency facility (both FSED and in-hospital ED combined) than at an urgent care center. Receiving care for a urinary tract infection or bronchitis can cost nine times more at an emergency facility than at an urgent care center.
“The current health care delivery landscape can be confusing, and we need to educate consumers that the decisions they make about where to receive care can have significant financial implications,” said Ana English, CIVHC CEO and President. “Data in the CO APCD allows us to take a closer look at health care costs and utilization so as a state we can focus on low hanging fruit that can reduce costs and provide Coloradans with the best care possible.”
In the last two Colorado legislative sessions, legislators introduced bills intending to increase consumer transparency regarding FSEDs. For numerous reasons, the bills did not pass. However, as plans are in place to build more FSEDs across the state, educating Coloradans remains critical with or without legislation.
CIVHC (civhc.org) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that helps Colorado identify ways to pay for, deliver and select high value health care. Through the pioneering Colorado All Payer Claims Database, we offer the state’s most comprehensive health care cost, quality and utilization claims data. We unlock information and provide tools and insights that guide meaningful action to improve health, enhance quality and lower cost. Bringing together a broad spectrum of organizations and individuals to design and drive collective change, CIVHC is devoted to a single cause: advancing an exceptional health care system for Colorado.