AP NEWS

Issue Of Surprise ER Bills Fixed At Scranton Hospital

April 5, 2019

The company that provides emergency room services at Geisinger Community Medical Center will now accept the same insurances as the hospital, ending a practice that left many patients on the hook for hundreds of dollars in fees.

Dr. Anthony Aquilina, president of Geisinger Northeast, on Thursday announced Emergency Services PC of Dunmore agreed to the stipulation as part of a six-year contract the hospital negotiated with the firm.

Emergency Services has staffed GCMC’s emergency room for several years. As a private, independent company, it set its own rules regarding which insurances it accepted. It did not accept all the same insurances as the hospital.

The situation caused confusion among patients, many of whom received a surprise bill because they learned — after the fact — that although GCMC was an in-network provider for their insurance, Emergency Services was not. That meant the ER visit was treated as out-of-network, which cost them substantially more.

The Times-Tribune, a Times-Shamrock newspaper, drew attention to the issue in August after several area residents complained they were hit with surprise bills. At the time, Aquilina acknowledged there was a problem and vowed the hospital would work to resolve the matter.

“We are here to provide care for everyone, and having this agreement in place means that our emergency patients do not have to wonder if their insurance covers both their hospital and physician care,” Aquilina said in a prepared statement.

The new contract with Emergency Services PC went into effect April 1. The company will now accept all insurances that are accepted at the hospital, including Geisinger Health Plan and Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield.

“Emergency Services PC and GCMC share a common goal of putting patients at the center of all that we do,” Dr. Steven J. Brunetti, vice president of the firm, said in a statement. “It is gratifying to finalize this agreement and move forward with our mission of providing prompt and professional emergency medical care to people in need.”

Contact the writer:

tbesecker@timesshamrock.com; 570-348-9137

@tmbeseckerTT