If you visit an urgent care facility rather than a regular emergency room after a car accident, don't be surprised if they refuse service. That's the upshot of the latest "bill of the month" feature from NPR, which puts a focus on medical bills. In this case, it all boiled down to insurance complications. Urgent care centers, unlike hospital ERs, are not required to treat everyone who comes in the door, the story explains. Sometimes they opt not to provide service because they don't have the proper equipment, but in the situation of Russell Cook and daughter Frankie in Rome, Georgia, the refusal centered on the fact that it was an auto accident and thus involved auto insurance.
Urgent care facilities in general operate on tight margins, which can make it difficult for them to wait for the particulars of a car crash to be sorted out through the various insurance companies as they determine who pays what. In this example, Frankie had flipped the family car on a rainy road but escaped without serious injury. Dad Russell took her to Atrium Health Floyd Urgent Care Rome as a precaution because she had a headache, but he was informed "we don't take third-party insurance." The pair were instead directed to a nearby ER owned by the same health system. There, they ended up with an initial bill of $17,005 for two CT scans, and the story deals with their successful efforts to get the amount reduced. (Read it here.)