Georgia's largest health insurance company, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia, has started a new rule: it will deny coverage to individual policyholders for emergency room visits the company deems to be unnecessary.
The idea is to address the soaring costs that are racked up when patients go to the ER for problems that should be handled in a doctor's office or a clinic.
While there is almost universal agreement that unnecessary ER visits are a problem, the new rule from BCBS has drawn fire from the Medical Association of Georgia, which represents the state's physicians.
In a recent conversation on Morning Edition, MAG Executive Director Donald Palmisano argued the new rule could harm some patients by making them afraid to go to the ER when they really need to.
For a response, Morning Edition host Denis O'Hayer spoke with Jeff Fusile, president of Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Georgia.