You have the right to emergency care in many hospitals across the United States, even if you do not have health insurance or the money to pay. If your health is at risk, you have the right to immediate medical attention, whether it is inpatient or outpatient treatment. Easily check the DexKnows health care clinics listings for clinics in your area.
Under the Emergency Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA), if the hospital accepts Medicare funds, it must treat all patients, even those without health insurance or the money to pay. The majority of U.S. facilities, including university hospitals and children’s hospitals, do participate in Medicare.
If you go to an outpatient clinic, it must treat you if it has an emergency department. If it does not, the clinic does not have to treat you, based on the EMTALA. However, the staff must refer you to an emergency room close by.
Once being treated, you have certain rights in the emergency room. You are entitled to screening and emergency care. To be considered an emergency medical condition, you must have symptoms so severe that the lack of immediate medical attention would place your health in serious jeopardy or is likely to cause extreme damage to a bodily function, organ or part. If you are having a medical emergency, the facility must provide you the care to stabilize you.
If you are pregnant, the hospital must provide you care when either your health or your unborn baby’s health is at serious risk. The children’s hospital or other facility may not transfer you if the movement would endanger your health or that of your baby. In that case, as the Insure Web site explains, the facility is legally required to provide you medical care, whether you have insurance or money to cover it or not.
Medical staff have no requirement to treat you if your health or the health of your unborn child is not in severe danger and you lack the medical insurance or money to pay. Staff likely will refer you to a doctor or clinic. In addition, once your condition stabilizes, the hospital has the right to transport you elsewhere. They no longer have the legal burden to treat you.
Aside from federal law, your state laws may allow you additional rights. The state regulations also affect the details on your health insurance policy. While you may consider your inpatient treatment an emergency, your health insurance company may not. The company must comply with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act; if a “prudent layperson, acting responsibly” considers emergency care necessary, then the health insurance company must pay for it.
Approach your state’s department of health if you find fault with the treatment you receive at a hospital or the handling by the health insurance company. You can find a local hospital or medical clinic by searching the DexKnows health care clinics listings.
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