West Virginia hospital to charge for non-emergency ER visits

SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A health system has planned to begin charging patients up-front co-pays for non-emergency visits to a West Virginia hospital’s emergency room.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports that Thomas Memorial Hospital’s administration says starting Wednesday staff will inform patients of the change and explain other options for their non-urgent care. Thomas Health System president and CEO Dan Lauffer says the charges will begin in about a month.

Hospital spokeswoman Paige Johnson says 30 percent of its ER patients are deemed with non-emergency problems. She says there’d be a minimum $8 up-front fee and that maximums “depend on their insurance copay.”

Lauffer says patients who’d be better served at walk-in clinics or doctor’s offices are less likely to receive the care they need at the ER and that they lengthen its wait times.

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