Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield Cuts Back on ER Use, Alarming Doctors

Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield members in three states have been told they may have to pay the cost of emergency department care if the insurer decides there was no medical emergency.

"Save the ER for emergencies -- or cover the cost," reads a letter sent last month to Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia members, NBC News reported.

"Going to the emergency room (ER) or calling 9-1-1 is always the way to go when it's an emergency. And we've got you covered for those situations," it states.

"But starting July 1, 2017, you'll be responsible for ER costs when it's NOT an emergency. That way, we can all help make sure the ER's available for people who really are having emergencies," according to the letter.

Similar letters were sent to members of plans owned by Anthem, Inc. in Missouri and Kentucky, and that's angered emergency room doctors, NBC News reported.

The insurer says it wants to direct patients to proper care.

"What we are really trying to do is make sure that people are seeing their doctors first," said Joyzelle Davis, communications director for Anthem, Inc., told NBC News.

But Dr. Becky Parker, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians, said it's about money.

"The insurance company is not on the same plane. They are not here to take care of people. They are here to make money. It's clear that the insurance companies are looking to make money. It is about the dollar. It is not about high quality care," Parker told NBC News.

"Our concern is that the insurance industry is trying to push this nationally," she added.

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