Texas Emergency Rooms and Elsewhere Levy Fees for Some Care

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Jay Keltner, spokesman for the Healthcare Financial Management Association, which represents health care financial executives, told ABC News his organization has no estimate for the amount of money hospitals that have imposed ER fees might be saving.

He does say, though, that focus groups conducted by the FMA find that consumers increasingly want to know in advance what their medical services will cost. "They don't like to be surprised on the back end," he said.

A hospital's delaying talking to patients about cost, he believes, serves no good purpose. If the conversation happens early on, as when an ER fee is charged, the patient and the hospital can both confront how the final bill will be paid. If the patient cannot pay, he said, then the sooner the hospital can try to get him or her financial assistance, the better.

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