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August 12, 2019

Surprise Medical Bills, the High Cost of Emergency Department Care, and the Effects on Patients

Author Affiliations
  • 1The New York Times, Washington, DC
JAMA Intern Med. Published online August 12, 2019. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2019.3448

In May, 2018, a reader of Vox, the news and opinion website where I worked as a health care reporter, sent me a remarkable medical bill for his young daughter’s emergency department visit. He and his wife were trimming the 1-year-old’s nails and accidentally cut her finger, causing it to bleed profusely. The nervous, first-time parents wanted a doctor to examine the wound. They went to the emergency department, the only place that would see a pediatric patient over the weekend.

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