SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

Viewpoints: Letters / Opinions

Emergency Room Medical Costs in Ketchikan

By Mike Carney


November 09, 2017
Thursday PM

Ketchikan Gateway Borough Residents: From time to time you hear of important issues in the town we live in, this is an issue you should all be aware of. If you have had the unfortunate occasion to visit our emergency room facility at PeaceHealth, it will add insult to injury when you get all the bills. I will tell you my story. I was out hunting and scraped my eye on an alder branch. I tried to wait it out until I could get to the eye doctor. That didn’t happen and I ended up in the emergency room early the next morning. I was dealt with in an orderly fashion and I saw a doctor that I had seen many times before. He is local and works for PeaceHealth. I was there about 40 minutes and I was thankful it was such a quick turnaround.

The problem started two months later when the bills started trickling in. The total was just over $1200 in the explanation of benefits. I have good insurance, so when I received a bill for around $224 at a quick glance I thought ”Ok" I am paying my normal 20%.” Then two weeks later I got a bill for $579 and it said the doctor I saw was a Non Participating Provider. So my portion of the emergency room visit was actually 70% of the overall bill. This goes for most of all of you that are seen at our local emergency room and I think it should be carefully reviewed within our community.

I was told that there is a sign that states that the emergency room is billed differently than the rest of the hospital, and that might be the case, but not many visiting the emergency room stands around reading signs or a sign. Even if you did, your visit is an emergency and you need the care immediately. I know this practice is common down south where they have emergent care facilities but we don’t live down south and we don’t have an emergent care facility.  I might add that this community has done their part and financed a 60-million-dollar project at this hospital. What was the slogan-“Build it and they will come”? Well guess what ?—They are not. PeaceHealth now has to come up with a cost model to cut their cost on the backs of the community that has already done their part! 

I think this policy needs to be vetted by the hospital board along with the City Council and the Borough Assembly. This community needs to take a hard look at just following suit with other lower 48 states that have already proven that they don’t have long term solutions regarding these issues. Ask yourself how many times have you called a doctor’s office in Ketchikan and were told they can’t get you in for two weeks or longer, and the next statement is “if you need it faster go to the emergency room". 

PeaceHealth, this community did their part and we keep doing it while you pay your $12 dollars a year rent on our building. My ask to PeaceHealth is to do the right thing and state publicly that you will review how many people have been caught up in this policy change and stop the practice, then send every single person that was affected a refund check. If you find an excuse to not do that then the community should line up at their council or their assembly and ask them to do something about your long term life expectancy as the operator of our local hospital. 


Mike Carney
Resident/Tax Payer
Ketchikan, Alaska



Editor's Note:

The text of this letter was NOT edited by the SitNews Editor.


Received November 08, 2017 - Published November 09, 2017

Related Viewpoint:





Viewpoints - Opinion Letters:

Webmail Your Opinion Letter to the Editor


Representations of fact and opinions in letters are solely those of the author.
The opinions of the author do not represent the opinions of Sitnews.

E-mail your letters & opinions to
Your full name, city and state are required for letter publication.

Published letters become the property of SitNews.

SitNews ©2016
Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska

Articles & photographs that appear in SitNews may be protected by copyright and may not be reprinted without written permission from and payment of any required fees to the proper sources.

E-mail your news & photos to

Photographers choosing to submit photographs for publication to SitNews are in doing so granting their permission for publication and for archiving. SitNews does not sell photographs. All requests for purchasing a photograph will be emailed to the photographer.