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Who Pays? How Reimbursement Impacts the Emergency Department

JHHSA, Vol. 36 No. 4, (2014)

Nationwide from 1996 to 2004, the overall proportion of Emergency Department (ED) reimbursement ratios for outpatient ED visits decreased from 57% to 42%. The continued falling of ED reimbursement ratios, which is the share of ED charges that are ultimately paid, is an indicator of the financial pressures facing the ED. Once the healthcare reforms are put in place what will the impact be on reimbursement rates of overburdened and underfunded emergency departments. Who pays for the ED services does impact the ED’s bottom line. The privately funded patients will provide an ED with a higher reimbursement ratio per year as compared to those patients who are publicly or self pay. This explains why EDs that provide care for 40% or more publicly or self pay patients have seen a decline in reimbursement ratios. Healthcare reform has the potential to change and possibly improve safety net ED rate of reimbursement depending on how private, public and self pay patients pay for ED services.

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