How much does an emergency room visit cost?

Filed Under: Costs, Health plans, Patients

Emergency room visits cost a lot. So we weren’t surprised when an anonymous person shared an emergency room bill on our site.

What we were surprised by: It was a $545 charge. And the person who sent it was outraged that it was so high.

By the standards of what we see every day, that is an incredibly inexpensive charge. And yet the person was really upset. The comment was “Terrible! I will definitely change my insurance.”

I have two observations. First, the insurance, from Nippon Life Benefits, got a $545 charge for an E.R. visit to Weill Cornell Medical College, which seems pretty low by U.S standards. We might guess that the person who shared is Japanese, considering the source of the insurance. (The person did not give an email or phone, or tell us the circumstances, so we can’t follow up.) Also, the insurer paid nothing, which is not all that unusual to us–but could easily be to a Japanese person.

And second, how inured are we to the vagaries of our health system that this charge seems relatively benign to us — while of course for the rest of the world, it’s horrible.