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Emergency Dept. Report – Florida 2018 prices (pdf)

Find average prices for an Emergency Department visit in Florida in this report. Summary report shows average cost (charges) in 2018 for a hospital ER visit based on acuity. Low acuity Pediatric visit for under age 10 cost about $1,100 in 2018. The more common high acuity pediatric ER visit (through age 17) had an average cost of $3,655, up almost 7% from the prior year. For adults, a high acuity average 2018 charge was $8,164. Common symptoms average cost shown, e.g. $10,506 adults for abdominal pain visit to the ER; $6,215 for back pain; $5,167 for a sprain; $5,450 for a superficial injury/contusion; $2,772 for upper respiratory infection visit; $5,287 for adult pregnancy complication; adult urinary tract infection averaged $7,598. Average pediatric visit for upper respiratory infection cost $2,114. Self-pay uninsured average charge was $1,201 for a low acuity visit, to $6,736 for high acuity. Medical inflation has been more than 13% since 2018, and should be considered in estimating 2023 prices. 26 pages, published by FL Agency for Health Care Admin. This is the latest available report as of July 2023, and it appears Florida has no plans to update the Emergency Department reports.

Truth about ER Visits: 2019 Data from CDC

What is the truth about ER visit waiting time? CDC’s 2019 National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey reveals the median waiting time to see a physician or other provider in the Emergency Department was 14 minutes (see Table 4), a minute shorter than the previous year. Sixteen percent waited an hour or more. The average calculated wait time was 37.4 minutes. In 2019, most patients (55%) spent between one and four hours in the Emergency Room). About 56% arrived outside of the M-F 8a to 5p hours. More than half (57%) of ER patients were triaged as semiurgent or urgent when they arrived. (However, when billed at discharge or admitted to the hospital, the overwhelming majority of ER visits are likely to be billed as at least a moderate to high severity. Data not shown in this report.) Percent admitted or transferred to another hospital (including observation stays): 16.3%. Main reasons for an ER visit: stomach and abdominal pain, cramps or spasms; chest pain and fever. Cough, shortness of breath and headaches also were common. Of the 44 million injury-related (or poisoning or adverse effects) visits, 26% were for falls – more than double the rate of motor vehicle traffic-related injuries seen in Emergency Rooms. 2020 and 2021 ER information not yet available as of September 2022. Click on NHAMCS Emergency Department Summary Tables.

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Average Cost of a Hospital ER Visit, MEPS

What is the average cost of a hospital ER visit?  According to the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS), the average cost of an ER visit was $1,150 in 2020, up 6.3% from 2019. (If you add medical inflation to 2022, the ER cost estimate would be about $1,210.) Adults ages 18 to 64 had the highest average visit cost at $1,385. Infants and children under age 18 cost $821 per visit on average. Age 65+ averaged $849. The average ER visit cost for someone uninsured was about $1,500 in 2020, up 23% compared to a year earlier. Someone under age 65 with private insurance had an average ER visit expense of $1,682. Many people made more than one trip to the Emergency Room in 2020. Consequently, the total expenditure per person with one or more ER visits during the year, was $1,724 in 2020. The median expenditure per person with an expense was $852.

The costs reported by MEPS are the expenditures (total amounts paid by all parties including insurance) for the ER visits. Actual charges would be much higher. An older, but detailed explanation – using cost to charge ratios – was published in December 2020 (HCUP Statistical Brief #268). It reports an average cost (different methodology) for an Emergency Department visit in 2017 of only $530 (which would be about $609 in 2022 dollars). The federal government has not released costs for the 2021 Emergency Department visits yet. The interactive tool may be difficult for many people to use.

Emergency Departments: Wait Time and Ambulance Diversions

Find detailed wait time in emergency departments, and ambulance diversions. NCHS Data Brief #102 on Wait Times in Emergency Departments (ED) analyzes ER ambulance diversions and average waiting time in 2009. Between 2003 and 2009, average wait time to see a provider increased 25%, from 46.5 minutes to 58.1 minutes. Even for patients classified as needing immediate care (just 2% of patient visits), the wait averaged nearly 29 minutes. If the ER was on ambulance diversion, the wait was longer, especially for the less critical patients. The report data are more than 10 years old, published August 2012. A newer summary of the 2019 Emergency Department tables from the annual National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, shows the average wait time to see a physician was 37.4 minutes, nearly a 21 minute improvement over ten years. (The median wait time to see an ER provider in 2019 was 14.0 minutes.)

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