The emergency room has become the preferred clinic of choice for the uninsured. This we know. But a group of Florida businesses discovered an alarming new trend: employees with full coverage were going to the ER for minor medical events instead of making clinic appointments that would have been covered.

The reason, reported the Daytona Beach News-Journal, was convenience. If an employee had a minor medical need — flu symptoms, a cut, ankle sprain, etc. – they knew from experience that they couldn’t get in to see their primary care doctor or another medic at their clinic for several days at best. So they checked in to the ER, and ran up the bills for the company health plan. (Treatment at an ER can be 10 times as costly as treatment at a clinic where employees’ costs are covered by company insurance, the newspaper said.)

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Dan Cook

Dan Cook is a journalist and communications consultant based in Portland, OR. During his journalism career he has been a reporter and editor for a variety of media companies, including American Lawyer Media, BusinessWeek, Newhouse Newspapers, Knight-Ridder, Time Inc., and Reuters. He specializes in health care and insurance related coverage for BenefitsPRO.

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