Tuesday, January 11, 2011

something new??

I am half asleep so hopefully this will make sense.

Is there something new in Alberta with emergency medicine? IE - sending patients a bill for the medications they were given in the ER?

This is why I ask. In December,my friend took her son to the doctor because his cold was hanging around and he was very lethargic and unwell. He is 13. The doc sent him for xrays and then called her house later to tell her there was a spot of pneumonia on his lung and she should take him up to the ER right away, and that he would call ahead to say they were coming.

She took him there, they were expecting them, and he was set up in the ER with an IV of antibiotics. They were told to come back every day for at least 5 days. So each day she took him back and they hooked him up (leaving the IV in his hand). No one said anything to her about the medication being a prescription and she would be billed. He was in the ER, the doctor sent them there, and then after 5 days they did another xray and said he was good to go, just needed to rest. He missed 2 weeks of school.

On Dec 23rd, she got a bill in the mail for the first day of the medication. She was shocked. She had been to ER in the past herself on doctor's orders and never ever received a bill. On top of all that she is a single parent and has her son under the Alberta Child Health Benefit plan where prescriptions are 100% covered. No one asked her about insurance or anything at all. Just her name, his name and health number, and current address. Same stuff they asked me when I went to ER in November.

But there it was - a bill. I advised her to call the hospital in the morning and tell them he was covered, so she did and they took the number for that (same as health care number anyway) and said it was all done. She then asked if she was supposed to get a bill for each day he was in there, and the secretary said Yes! She asked why, and they said he was considered an outpatient.

But so is everyone in the ER unless they are admitted to hospital. Why wasn't I billed for the medications I received via IV only one month before this? Why have I never heard of anyone else being billed for medications received in ER? Perhaps the walkin doctor faxed over a prescription - but again, she checked in every single day and not once was asked about insurance. Whenever I need prescriptions, my doc AND the pharmacist ask me about insurance. Why not at the hospital? She didn't have to hand in any papers - she didnt even have any because the doc called her at home and told her to get to ER asap.

So - what's up with that? Is this a new surprise from the govt that is lurking around the corner? Cut the premiums and then cut the services too? Of course!

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