When a hospital emergency strikes, most likely an ambulance will take you to the nearest hospital for care. But, if you have a choice of hospitals, you should consider planning which hospital you’d want to go to now. Planning ahead could get you better care and save you money.
Try to use a hospital in your health plan’s network to ensure your continuity of care. While health plans must cover emergency care no matter where you get treated, you will likely find that your health plan may only cover follow-up care in a network hospital, unless your health is endangered. (If you have traditional Medicare, you do not have to worry since it covers care in virtually any hospital.)
And, choose carefully among the hospitals in your health plan’s network. Different hospitals rank higher than others in the quality of care they deliver. Some hospitals are poor on patient safety. And, some offer better emergency care than others. A University of Michigan study linking emergency room care with patient outcomes shows a connection between the number of emergency room cases a hospital gets and patients’ survival, particularly for patients with life-threatening conditions. The busier the emergency room, the higher the survival rate. The study’s authors estimate that if all patients with serious conditions used the busiest emergency rooms, 24,000 fewer people would die each year.
Planning ahead could also keep your emergency health care costs down. Click here for two tips. And, here’s a list of what to bring to the hospital, including–perhaps most importantly–a health care buddy.