In this New York Times report of a recent study, the uninsured did not take up a disproportional amount of volume in the ER for minor complaints. Uninsured people DO tend to be more informed users of hospital resources because they know that they will get a bill in the mail and have to pay it. So this is a great study to bring light to a number of issues.
What’s truly disturbing is the study’s documentation of how many people come to the ER for minor complaints
As it turns out, people who have public insurance, such as Medicaid, were more likely to crowd into the emergency room for minor complaints, especially in low-income areas.
This makes total sense to me…in my experience, the patients that tend to be most demanding and least appreciative of the services offered in the ER, feeling that it is their right to receive treatment, regardless of acuity and regardless of cotemporaneous demands of the ER are medicaid patients. Remember me telling you about the 2AM delivery of the premature infant where I was the only doc working, and the nurse could not leave the room? The group in the next room over was furious at the inadequate care received because no one would bring them a glass of water! Can you guess what insurance they had? Yep, medicaid. GOMER. Get Out of My ER. If you are well enough to complain about no one bringing you a glass of water when you have two visitors with functional feet and legs, then you don’t need to be in my ER. Go away.
Whoops…sorry for that little rant there, lost control of myself.
I’m not saying that I don’t like the fact that medicaid exists, I’d imagine many children are happier and healthier because their parents were able to bring them to the ER at night for asthma and pneumonia (although why their parents continued to by cigarettes is beyond me…).
What I am saying is that the government needs to direct healthcare dolllars to places that are going to have the biggest impact on healthcare….I don’t know where that area is right now, but there are certainly a number of places to look.
Capitalistic healthcare is not working in this country. How about taking $700 billion dollars of your money and putting towards a few fixes?