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Paying the Price for Drunk and High ER Visits

Alcohol Abuse Denies Insurance Payments

Updated on

Paying the Price for Drunk and High ER Visits

Alcohol Abuse Denies Insurance Payments
Being under the influence of alcohol allows insurance companies to deny payment for medical care.

Did you know that laws in over half of U.S. states allow insurance companies to deny payment for medical care provided to individuals under the influence of drugs or alcohol? Such “alcohol-exclusion laws” have been presenting problems to hospital emergency departments and trauma centers for years. Recently, rates of alcohol abuse and alcohol rehabilitation in our nation have soared. The Annals of Emergency Medicine published a study online about the issue in March. The study’s lead author, Gail D’Onofrio, stated, “In the emergency department on a weekend, all the cases may be drug or alcohol related.” So who is footing the bill for all of this care?

Due to differing requirements, emergency departments may get around the law by not testing patients for drug and alcohol use because it isn’t mandatory. Trauma centers, on the other hand, must perform screenings.  This technicality, while sometimes helping ensure payment is made, is of no benefit to the patient. If an individual ends up in the emergency department due to a drunken injury, it may be a sign of alcohol abuse or alcoholism. If this is the case, being released from the hospital without a referral to an alcohol rehabilitation facility will only worsen the addict’s cycle of addiction.

Have you or a loved one ever ended up in the hospital for something that happened while drunk or high? If so, it may be time to consider alcohol rehabilitation or drug rehabilitation. If not, you’ll probably end up in the hospital again…or worse.

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