How Vox analyzed and explained the high prices in emergency departments

When Sarah Kliff, healthcare reporter for Vox, saw an emergency department bill charging more than $600 for an encounter that ended with a band-aid, she and the media company undertook a year-long project to explore as many ED bills as possible. She sought to answer why ED prices are so high and continue to rise so quickly.

She revealed her findings in a series of reporting over the year, after collecting hundreds of medical bills. More recently, Kliff wrote a viewpoint on the experience and results of the project in JAMA Internal Medicine.

For patients, one of the most common and biggest problems with ED bills was surprise bills, when they received charges from an out-of-network clinician after receiving care from an in-network hospital. Some of Kliff’s reporting even led one hospital to change its billing policy after patients were left with tens of thousands in medical bills and the outrage hit the news.

See the full viewpoint below: