Steer (verb): to control the course of, to guide by mechanical means
We automatically think of “steering” in terms of what we do to control the direction of our cars, boats, bicycles, or more metaphorically, the direction we want to head in our lives. But when it comes to healthcare, steering takes on a sinister meaning. Do you know that health insurance companies are increasingly active in steering patients’ healthcare decisions? The results of this dangerous practice could end up costing patients their health, their financial wellbeing, and possibly even
Richard Yount, CEO, Patients Emergency Room describes this potentially dangerous insurance company practice:
Patient “steering” involves someone else getting involved in directing patients’ decisions regarding: (1) who to see for medical care, (2) where to seek medical care and (3) what kind of medical care you need. This can be a good thing when we trust family or loved ones’ recommendations for healthcare providers, or advice on from which hospital to seek care. We trust our family and friends because we know they genuinely want what’s best for us and are invested in our having a positive healthcare outcome.
More and more often, however, your insurance company is the party getting involved in “steering” your patient care. Your insurer has a financial interest in directing you to the cheapest possible care available (no matter the effect on you).
Your insurer has less of an interest in considering the quality of care or the timeliness of care. When minutes—and even seconds—matter, everyone knows that the emergency room is the place to receive rapid care from expertly trained physicians. This is also a more costly option for care – but it is the best-equipped and only place to receive high quality emergency care. Your health insurer has little to no incentive to recommend higher cost alternatives when you seek medical care. On the other hand, the burden of delayed or inadequate care is solely your burden to bear – not theirs.
Examples of how we see insurers “steering” patients to lower levels of care include the following:
Sometimes it is cheaper for the insurer to completely deny access to or payment for quality care.
Local Texans — EMS providers, doctors, nurses, and legislators are on your side.
Patients— We are fighting for your rights every single day—even as insurers are spending BIG dollars to control and limit your access to high quality emergency
If you think you have been “steered” in a direction that you do not want to go, please share your story with us on our homepage. You deserve access to the best care available.
If your visit to the emergency room has been denied by your insurance company, or you feel they didn’t cover enough of the costs, we want to hear your story.
Additionally, have you called your insurance company when you thought you were having a medical emergency and they told you to go to the urgent care? This is patient steering and we want to hear from you.