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Study shows $1.3B in avoidable ER costs

Posted: 5:06 PM, Apr 06, 2016
Updated: 2016-04-06 21:06:59Z

A New York health insurer's study shows 10 common conditions like sinus infections and sprains represented more than 2 million visits to hospital emergency rooms statewide and cost about $1.3 billion in 2013.

The study says about 90 percent could have been treated elsewhere for less.

Excellus BlueCross BlueShield examined 6.4 million emergency room visits in 2013, concluding many were avoidable with less expensive and faster treatment in doctors' offices, urgent care clinics or even through telemedicine.

Its analysis says hospital visits were nearly eight times more expensive than a doctor's office, 3.5 times higher than an urgent care center and 15 times costlier than telemedicine.

Excellus notes that effective this year, health insurers in New York are required to cover telemedicine visits by members enrolled in commercial plans.