In today’s Victoria Advocate newspaper (Victoria, Texas) there appears an article about a free standing ER closing down because the have “been having problems with insurance companies.” Actually the problem is not with the insurance companies. Its with hospitals gaming the system. Consumers equate free standing ERs as urgent care centers paying for services with other peoples money. An “office visit” there can cost several thousands of dollars for something as simple as a cold, insect bite or sprained ankle. The cost is so high and the profits so great it takes only 6 or 7 customers a day to reap a profit.
Yet you read the story below and come away thinking the mean, uncaring insurance companies seeking to pay as little as possible are to blame. BTW – insurance policies under the ACA cover emergencies.
A free-standing emergency center with 24-hour availability for patients had two bright orange signs Wednesday on its front office windows, letting patients know it was closed.
The owners of Mercer ER, 6902 Zac Lentz Parkway, came and spoke to their employees about 10:45 a.m. to tell them the business was closing, said Cindy Hicks Rodriguez, the former marketing director. She said the emergency center, which opened in Victoria in January 2017, has been having problems with insurance companies.
“Blue Cross Blue Shield (of Texas) has not been paying for a long period of time,” said Rodriguez. “Some insurance companies did pay, but a couple haven’t. There’s a lot of money owed to Mercer; that’s the reason why (Mercer closed).”
Legally, she said, the owners would have to go through the government to make the insurance companies pay, but that would take years. Some don’t cover emergency care, Rodriguez said.
“Even if we had all the money we needed, it would make no sense to come back because insurance doesn’t pay,” she said.
During its time in Victoria, Mercer ER hosted events that honored first responders and recognized volunteers who helped during and after Hurricane Harvey.
She said the free-standing emergency center saw more than 2,500 patients who came back because of the service. Rodriguez also said the center reduced waiting time and was efficient.
“It breaks my heart, but that’s all,” she said. “Victoria really needed it. I don’t think they are going to come back.”
Ismael Perez reports on arts/entertainment and breaking news for the Victoria Advocate. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 361-580-6558.
I’m not sad. The insurers are just cracking down on this scam. For once, good for them.