Emergency Room doctors say insurance companies are gouging patients

AUSTIN, Tex. (KBTX) - A group of Texas ER doctors and advocates rallied Tuesday in Austin to stop the rising costs of emergency room bills from health insurance companies.

The group says insurance companies are paying less for emergency care and are shifting the cost directly to patients.

Dr. Andy Wilson with CapRock ER in College Station, along with an advocacy group called StateEmergency.org, held the press conference to raise awareness about what they call a systematic attack on emergency care. They want legislative action to protect Texas patients from detrimental insurance billing practices.

Doctors claim the insurance companies are not providing an explanation or proof as to why bills are higher for patients.

“Patients just five years ago, had they gone to the same emergency room, they would have gotten a bill for $100. Now they are getting a bill for $1,000, more than $1,000, even though the bills have not changed from the provider,” said Dr. Wilson. "The amount that they have to pay is even greater than before in their most dire time of need, in an unexpected emergency.”

These groups are hoping legislators will support bills that further the transparency of health insurance companies so that they can bring costs down for patients.

The State Emergency advocacy coalition says in a statement Texas currently ranks among the worst in the country when it comes to access to emergency care, receiving a grade of ‘F’ from the American College of Emergency Physicians 2014 Report Card. Despite that fact, health insurance companies are advocating at the State Capitol to keep health networks narrow, which would limit the number of healthcare providers available for Texans for financial gain.
Members of the coalition expressed support for legislative initiatives aimed at increasing health insurance transparency and bolstering oversight to guarantee insurers obey current state and federal statutes. Emergency physician groups have supported bills for greater transparency, including HB 2077, HB 2449, HB 2945, HB 3755, SB 1486, and SB 1614 -- critical legislation that will not make it to the floor while insurance company backed legislation advances further, threatening emergency medicine in Texas.”