COMPTROLLER LEMBO LAUNCHES
FIRST IN SERIES OF HEALTH CONSUMER AWARENESS CAMPAIGNS:
"EMERGENCY ROOMS ARE FOR EMERGENCIES"
Comptroller Kevin Lembo this week launched the first in a series of health consumer awareness campaigns to encourage state employees, retirees - and all Connecticut residents - to shop smart for health care.
This purpose of this week's campaign - utilizing social media, direct messages to employees and other platforms - concerns the common misuse of emergency rooms (ERs) for non-emergency care.
"The theme this week is: Emergency Rooms are for emergencies," Lembo said. "Summer is the high-traffic season for the beach - and also for emergency rooms. While none of us wants to visit an ER - and we hope to never require one - many people visit ERs every year for non-emergency ailments or injuries that could be better treated in urgent care centers, physician offices and other non-emergency retail health settings.
"In many cases, patients could have saved significant time, money and frustration by avoiding ERs for non-emergency conditions. Our goal this week is to raise awareness about the benefits of avoiding ERs for non-emergency care - the first in a series of awareness campaigns over the coming months designed to encourage everyone to shop smart for health care."
First and foremost, Lembo said he wants to be clear that health and safety is a priority - and that people should always call 911 or go to the ER if they believe there's any chance that they are having a real emergency or that their health is at serious risk by delaying care.
"Our goal is to arm everyone with information to ensure the best and safest possible patient experience when they suffer an injury or illness," Lembo said.
As part of the information campaign, Lembo shared with employees and retirees
two tools through Anthem and UnitedHealth (the state's third-party
administrators for the state health plan) to find the nearest urgent care center
EMERGENCY ROOMS VS. URGENT CARE: THE FACTS
• The average cost for an emergency room visit is more than $1,200
The State of Connecticut employee and retiree health plan spends approximately $4.4 million annually on emergency room costs. However, a recent review by Anthem reveals that approximately 50 percent of emergency room visits were for non-emergency conditions that could have been treated in an alternate setting.
These are some of the most common conditions that could be treated in urgent
This link - from the U.S. National Library of Medicine - offers additional
helpful tips to determine what cases warrant calling 911 and seeking ER care vs.
WHY SHOULD PATIENTS CARE?
CONVENIENCE: Routine care - such as those described above - can often be better and more efficiently delivered in urgent care centers or other non-emergency health centers. Overcrowded ERs can result in unnecessarily longer waits.
COST: ERs are not only more expensive for the state - they are more expensive for patients personally! Patients pay higher copays on the state plan for ER visits, and all state plan participants pay higher premiums when ERs are utilized for non-emergent care.
IS IT AN ER OR URGENT CARE CENTER?
Some Connecticut hospitals now have smaller free-standing, off-site ERs that may appear similar to neighborhood urgent care centers. These free-standing ERs deliver ER services and charge ER rates - and may not be appropriate for non-emergent care.
Only licensed ERs can offer "emergency services." Here are the six licensed
free-standing ERs in Connecticut:
Here are descriptions of alternatives to such ERs:
SPREADING THE WORD
Lembo is encouraging all to share these facts on social media throughout the week with fellow employees, retirees and neighbors.
"This does not just affect state employees and retirees - it affects everyone in the health-care system," Lembo said.