Yichun Zhao still clearly remembers the emergency room experience she had a year ago.
Now, Yichun is working in financial management in a hotel in Philadelphia. But last year,she went to an emergency room in Syracuse simply for an acute stomachache.“
Don’t call 911 if you are not in very urgent condition,” she said.True, before calling a 911 ambulance, one should determine if he or she really needs to. Normally, when life-threatening conditions, like a heart attack, breathing difficulties, bleeding, loss of consciousness, happen, one needs to call an ambulance promptly. But if it is just slight injuries, such as fractures or stomach pains, you may consider simply having your family members or friends to drive you to the emergency room.
Most Chinese need to correct a misconception that the 911 ambulance service is free. In fact, it charges for both the ambulance and service fees.
In April 2013, Yichun was struck with an acute stomachache. Her professor called 911 and she was sent to the nearby emergency room. This experience was quite special for her and she also learned some lessons from it.
In order to call a 911 ambulance, one needs to tell the 911 operator one’s address and describe the state of the illness. The medical staff will subsequently start basic treatment in the ambulance, as well as ask about one’s medical history, allergic history and so on.
Normally, the patient will be sent to the nearest hospital, but you can actually choose which emergency room you want to go as long as the medical personnel thinks you are in a steady condition.
Yichun didn’t bring her health care card with her to the hospital, but she was asked to provide the information before leaving the hospital. Later, the hospital used the information to contact her health insurance company and send her an emergency treatment bill.
When seeing a doctor in America, patients usually do not need to worry about the payment during treatment, instead waiting until the hospital sends the bill later.
However, the emergency room treatment fee can be frightening sometimes. Because Yichun had purchased certain commercial medical insurance in advance, the insurance company covered half of the total fee, which was more than $2000. However, Yichun was still shocked by the uncovered price, which amounted to over $1000 that she needed to pay.
Luckily, Yichun found another way to cut down the payment. Actually, most hospitals have some financial assistance programs specifically for jobless, low income or financially troubled
people and students can often be included into this category. Thus, after filling in related application form hospital sent to her, Yichun finally got her medical bill down to $150 through hospital financial assistance programs.
(Photo courtesy: Rosser321/Flickr)
Make sure to closely check every item on your bill Compared to Yichun, Da Zhao, a student at Florida University, had a more terrifying
emergency room experience.
Da was sent to the hospital for emergency treatment of acute appendicitis. First, the nurses had a preliminary diagnosis for him and didn’t judge his illness as especially severe. Since his condition hadn’t initially been judged as critical, he had been waiting for three hours. However, Da started to feel the hurt became unbearable, he asked for help and immediately scheduled for treatment.
Da Zhao said at the time, when the nurse asked him to judge his degree of pain on a number scale from 1 to 10, he said 7 or 8. And that’s probably why he had to wait for such a long time.
“When you feel the pain is severe, you should directly describe it as 10.” Da suggested.
In the emergency room, Da received more than just a doctor’s consultation, After using morphine for pain relief, the doctor gave him a comprehensive inspection and then a final series of inspections including NMR, X and CT examinations.
After the doctors made the final diagnosis of acute appendicitis, Da was immediately scheduled for surgery.
Da said he was extremely impressed by the responsible attitude of American doctors, treatments’ effects and hospital environment. But in regards to dealing with the medical bill, he went through different difficulties.
About four or five months later, Da began receiving medical bills from both his insurance company and the hospital. The fee of over $20,000 had him simply floored. Fortunately, he had purchased student commercial medical insurance that covered most of the costs reflected in the bills. However, after comparing the bills from the insurance company and the hospital ones, he found certain errors in the hospital bill: around $500 that had already been covered by the insurance company was displayed as a fee that he needed to pay.
Da immediately consulted with the insurance company and the hospital, and the hospital finally admitted that the settlement was wrong and issued a new bill, in which Zhao Da only needed to pay $100.
It may be rare for a person to run into an urgent situation that requires a need to call 911 and take an emergency treatment, but when it does happen, it is easy to feel panic. The two interviewees concluded four points of suggestion that will hopefully help all the Chinese just arriving in America to start their new studies, work and life:
1. Make a judgment on whether your condition is life-threatening: if you are not sure, call 911 and ask the operator to help you decide.
2. Be bold when talking with doctors: doctors will do their best to explain your health condition and related treatment schedules to you, using simple language that even includes body language, but if you still do not understand, feel free to ask for help.(You can always ask for an interpreter). Moreover, let your doctor know your medical history ad allergic history, which is crucial.
3. Ask somebody to keep you company: emergency treatment will take a long time, and you also need help with drinking water and eating. Thus having someone to help you is important.
4. Know your health insurance information: Develop a basic knowledge of the medical coverage and hospital network of your insurance company.