Lawsuit Claims Free Standing Emergency Room Operator Scam Patients

Lawsuit Claims Free Standing Emergency Room Operator Scam Patients

My son was playing basketball and another player landed on top of him and just like that he is holding his shoulder in supreme pain. Of course, as the caring dad, I encouraged him to shake it off and get out there and play. The next day my wife called to inform me that his shoulder was very swollen. Of course, this was 4 pm on July 3rd. Our Doctor was not an option. Waiting didn’t seem like an option since my common sense advice to “shake it off” got us in this place to begin with.

Then I realize that that there is an emergency center on the corner not too far from the house. I remembered that I had a $500 deductible for emergency rooms and thought I would just take him there. Stop the story – Since my boys thankfully never go to the doctor much less need an x-ray, ‘Mr. Prudent Money’ forgot everything he talks about on the radio and didn’t ask the right question.

What is the difference between an emergency room that is stand alone, a hospital emergency room, or an urgent care center?

Does he really need anything more than an x-ray? Can’t you get that at the doctor in a few days?

Did I ask google? After all, the stand lone emergency room can wait. It is open 24 hours. There is not a matinee discount or blue light special or anything.

Bonus question – How much is this going to cost and what will my insurance cover?

‘Mr. Not So Prudent Money’ failed at this one for sure. The upside was that it was 20 minutes, a visit with the doctor, and x-ray that showed a mild separation, and then here is the slap upside the head – A bill for $1,900.

A recent article in the Dallas Morning News shows that there might be more to these 24 hour stand-alone emergency rooms.

“Lawsuit Claims Free Standing Emergency Room Operator Scam Patients”

A Colorado man has filed a $5 million lawsuit and is seeking class action status, in perhaps the first case to question the facility fees charged to patients. It claims that Adeptus takes advantage of confusion in the marketplace, fraudulently preying on consumers by failing to disclose excessive costs. 

Much like hospital-based emergency rooms, the stand-alone centers charge a facility fee to cover the overhead costs associated with staffing teams of emergency specialists around the clock.

However, the lawsuit says that Adeptus “tricks patients into believing its centers are appropriate,” even when the consumer might be better off at urgent care, or lower-cost facilities that can handle non-emergency situations and where no such fee is charged. 

Moreover, they do not disclose the amount of the charge before the patient undergoes care.”

I think that you get the picture. The bottom line is to stay away from these places unless it is life or death and two minutes is going to make a difference. Even then an ambulance ride to a major hospital still might be a better choice. Any other reason? Sure, if you like convenient expensive healthcare, they make a great option. 

So did I get scammed? Since I didn’t ask the right questions and since no one lied to me, I guess not. However, it sure felt like it! #lessonlearned

The Market Is Due a Correction – Look at These Stats

The Market Is Due a Correction – Look at These Stats

Economist and Financial Writer John Mauldin wrote this in his weekly newsletter a few weeks ago.  It just goes to show you how out of balance the market is right now.

It has been 116 days since we had a 5% correction.

Since 1928, the average number of days before a 5% correction occurred was 50.

We have been 210 days without a 10% correction. Since 1928, the average number of days before a 10% correction occurred was 167.

It has been 1955 days since we suffered a 20% correction. Since 1928, the average number of days before a 20% correction occurred was 635. In secular bull periods the average number of days was 1105. In secular bear periods the average number of days was 486.

The current case of 1955 days without a 20% correction is more than three times the average of 635 days (for the whole period from 1-3-1928 to 12-8-2016).

Corrections (declines of 10 to 20%) are normal for the stock market.  My biggest concern about the market right now are those stats.  It has been a long time.  As a result, investors forget that they are normal.  A 10% to 20% decline could feel more like a 30% to 40% decline creating more selling morphing a correction into a bear market.

Careful Financial Advisors Are Raising Fees – What You Need to Know

Careful Financial Advisors Are Raising Fees – What You Need to Know

It has been my experience that there is so much misinformation on how fees work in the financial advice and investment/money management business. I am starting a two part series on what you need to know.

The new Fiduciary Rule partially goes into effect this April and is in full effect January 2018. I won’t bore you with the details of this 1000 page piece of legislation. You just need to understand the end result on the financial advisor industry and how it potentially affects you. So, just take this as the bottom line. For the advisor, it creates additional liability, increases costs, and limits how they can earn money if they are commission based. For the client, your advisor might drop you as a client because of the liability/cost, raise your fees because of the liability/cost, or start charging you a fee because commissions have been reduced or taken away.

So, if you are working with a financial advisor, here are the scenarios that you might face:

1)    Increased Fees

They may already be charging you a money management fee for managing your investments. They might raise those fees. First, make sure that your advisor is doing something for that fee. It isn’t called a money management fee for nothing. Most advisors charge a fee and do not actually manage the account. Management of the account means buying and selling investments strategically to protect and to grow the account. So, if they are charging a fee for doing nothing, I would consider finding someone else. If they are actually managing your account and you like what they are doing, then you have to decide if the increase in fees is worth it.

2)    Start Charging a Fee

If you have been in a commission based account, now your advisor wants to start charging you a management fee. First of all, this in my opinion is a violation of the fiduciary rule which states that you have to put your client’s interest first. Many advisors are switching over to a fee based model because they can’t earn commissions anymore. If that is the case, think hard about why you would want to start paying a fee for someone who has no management experience and probably will not do anymore than they were doing when they weren’t charging you a fee.

3)    Drop You as a Client

Since the new rule increases liability, there will be some advisors who drop smaller clients. I personally think that makes no sense. If that is the case, send me an email (bob@prudentmoney.com) and let’s talk. They obviously don’t have the proper framework set up in their practice.

Fees can be a confusing subject. However, knowing just a little information can clear up the confusion. The bottom line is simply this. If you are paying a fee, what are you getting for it or what do you hope to get for it? If you can’t answer that question, then you are perceiving no value for the fee you are paying.

What Do You Do If You Can’t Return a Gift?

What Do You Do If You Can’t Return a Gift?

Inevitably a good percentage of us will return a gift that we have received at Christmas. Most of the time, returns are pretty easy. However, there are the times when it doesn’t work out. Do you have any recourse? Wallethub.com who we get a lot of our credit card research from just issued a report that I thought was useful to share with you.

They state that many credit cards offer a return extension service. This card benefit allows you to get reimbursed for an item that you were trying to return but couldn’t. The report details out how this benefit works and what cards have the best benefit. For more information, click here.

Are Emergency Funds a Bad Idea?

Are Emergency Funds a Bad Idea?

I came across an article today that I had to comment on.  It was about Emergency Funds.  The Title was Emergency Funds Are a Bad Idea.  Here are some excerpts.

 “If the experts are going to issue a blanket recommendation to millions of people that they should all create a buffer to tie them over in unforeseen circumstances, it would make far more sense to say, “Instead of amassing an account that pays you 0%, or a few basis points above that, maybe you should focus on closing out an account or two that’s costing you 15%.”
Even for a person who has amassed debt, it still makes sense to build an emergency account. At some point, you have to be able to stop accumulating debt and stop the bleeding. After all, debt is often the result of unforeseen expenses that an emergency fund would have handled.
“But this is where the irony lies. Because, as a rule, the folks who are diligent enough to live without consumer debt usually pay their bills on time. They do not impoverish themselves so they or their offspring can attend college, and they do not spend extravagantly. They are also the ones who are going to be least prone to emergencies, and thus least in need of any emergency fund.”
Well I can’t say that I follow that logic. They are also the ones who are going to be least prone to emergencies? The last time I checked unforeseen problems can happen to anyone.
“Worried about a debilitating illness or injury? We have health insurance for that.”
I don’t know about you but my health insurance doesn’t always cover everything and I am looking at a $6,000 deductible before they start paying.  I would like to know that I have at least $6,000 handy in the event that life happens.
“Well what if I loose my job?  Well, what if you do? There’s this thing called unemployment insurance. Your employers pay into it and it’s for your benefit. We also have a workforce in which (overall, if not in every individual case) 95% of those who want jobs have them.”

Ask the high percentage of unemployed people if they agree with that 95% number.
Then my favorite piece of advice as an alternative to funding a savings account with your emergency fund.
“You can also pick a higher-risk blue chip stock or bond fund – which adds to your risk, but gives you instant access to your funds if you need them. Either way, you’d be building wealth instead of watching it methodically diminish.”
After all, you can’t lose money in a stock or bond fund – right? Why would you utilize a long-term investment for a short term problem? Instant access? What if you are down -10% in that stock?  Would you want to be liquidating it for an emergency?
Bottom Line – Emergency funds help keep you out of debt because the credit card is where we go when we can’t pay with real money. They are not designed to increase your net worth. They pay nothing because risk free earns nothing these days. Emergency funds are designed to be risk free because you don’t take risk on something that needs to remain liquid. Finally, emergencies will happen unless you are immune to change.
Tomorrow  – Some creative ways to create emergency funds.

Merry Christmas

christmas-xmas-christmas-tree-decorationMerry Christmas

This will be my last note of 2016. I want to encourage you in this great Christmas season to focus on the Present. The past is gone and the future is unknown. The Present is the only thing that is real. The Present is God’s Gift to us. There is a tendency to let the past create regret and the future to create stress when the past is nothing but a memory and the future is under God’s control. I would encourage everyone to take some time and reflect in gratitude on the Present all of God’s blessings and reflect on that Holy Night when God gave us the greatest Present of all. May each of you have a wonderful and Merry Christmas!

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