AP: ObamaCare will flood nation’s emergency rooms

posted at 5:10 pm on July 2, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

Remember when Democrats told us that we needed to have government do a top-down reform of the entire American health-care system in order to cut costs?  They repeatedly argued that the large number of uninsured created too much pressure on emergency rooms, which delivers the most expensive medical attention outside of surgery.  ObamaCare, they argued, would insure those currently without insurance and therefore get them into clinics, which would reduce overall costs.

The only problem with that argument, the Associated Press reports today, is that it was based on the myth that the uninsured are the most frequent users of emergency-room care.  It turns out that ObamaCare actually will make the situation worse — much, much worse:

Emergency rooms, the only choice for patients who can’t find care elsewhere, may grow even more crowded with longer wait times under the nation’s new health law.

That might come as a surprise to those who thought getting 32 million more people covered by health insurance would ease ER crowding. It would seem these patients would be able to get routine health care by visiting a doctor’s office, as most of the insured do.

It turns out that the insured and uninsured actually use emergency rooms in about the same proportion.  The uninsured are not more likely to seek care in emergency rooms, especially since clinics are less expensive.  Market forces work in similar ways for the insured and uninsured alike.

So who are the most likely to use emergency rooms rather than clinics?

The biggest users of emergency rooms by far are Medicaid recipients. And the new health insurance law will increase their ranks by about 16 million. Medicaid is the state and federal program for low-income families and the disabled. And many family doctors limit the number of Medicaid patients they take because of low government reimbursements.

Surprise!  Or really, no big surprise.  While private clinics can decide not to accept Medicare and Medicaid patients, emergency rooms cannot.  That leaves these patients with the choice of paying completely out of pocket for care in a clinic, or having most of the cost of emergency-room care covered by the government.  It’s yet another example of the perverse outcomes that government interventions generate.

Now, one might think that Congress would have researched precisely this issue when deciding to use a vast expansion of Medicaid to supposedly lower costs.  But that would only be true if we accepted another myth, which was that ObamaCare was really about reducing costs or improving outcomes.  It wasn’t; it was all about trying to impose government control over the health-care sector and push insurers out of business.


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Geez, who could have seen that coming?

redshirt on July 2, 2010 at 5:13 PM

So Nazi Policei was right.
We sure are finding out what is in the medical -rationing bill, now that Congress has passed it

macncheez on July 2, 2010 at 5:16 PM

Take a number upon entering the Emergency Room.

Than you will be directed into 1 of 3 lines:

Line#1 Those that will die in less than 3 hours in the waiting room.

Line#2 Those that are bleeding, and will run out of blood in less than 2 hours.

Line#3 Directly to the Morgue waiting room.

Number 96!….96!…..Number 97!

portlandon on July 2, 2010 at 5:17 PM

I’m shocked. Just shocked! NOT!!!

What kills me on any of this is….does any of this register enough with any of them, to repeal it, and leave it alone, or start over? Nope. They’d rather glorify their own magnificence on having passed it, rather than take it back, and fix it. Idiots!!!

capejasmine on July 2, 2010 at 5:18 PM

ER’s.. full.. to the brime? Hmmm oh yeah… all paid by the governmnet, that is one long wait.

upinak on July 2, 2010 at 5:18 PM

Obamainsurance strikes again. We cover what we cover except when we don’t cover it. And if you don’t like it get in line to file a complaint at your local neighborhood death panel.

chemman on July 2, 2010 at 5:19 PM

The worst of all worlds. This hellspawned law didn’t even include something as basic as subsidies and/or tax breaks for aspiring medical students.

Dark-Star on July 2, 2010 at 5:20 PM

And guess what ObamaCare shifted more of the health care to in order to keep the costs out of the federal budget so it would come in under 1 trillion? You guessed it Medicaid.

txmomof6 on July 2, 2010 at 5:20 PM

Medicaid recipients are notorious for taking ambulance rides to the closest emergency room for their stuffy noses and mild colds. Let’s just add another 35 million illegals and everything will be just peachy!

Key West Reader on July 2, 2010 at 5:20 PM

Here is what is coming
Prepare yourselves America

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OFj2qpIA_M0

macncheez on July 2, 2010 at 5:21 PM

If you like your mortician you can keep your mortician.

pain train on July 2, 2010 at 5:21 PM

Take a number upon entering the Emergency Room.

Than you will be directed into 1 of 3 lines:

Line#1 Those that will die in less than 3 hours in the waiting room.

Line#2 Those that are bleeding, and will run out of blood in less than 2 hours.

Line#3 Directly to the Morgue waiting room.

Number 96!….96!…..Number 97!

portlandon on July 2, 2010 at 5:17 PM

Reminds me of the Swine Flu shots last year.

Electrongod on July 2, 2010 at 5:22 PM

It will only flood ER’s in poor parts of town for Medicaid recipients. The hospitals will have to move further away from the city.

PrezHussein on July 2, 2010 at 5:22 PM

Idiots!!!

capejasmine on July 2, 2010 at 5:18 PM

Yes, they were idiots for passing this. Once the States are overwhelmed beginning in January the cries for repeal will be reverberating throughout the Nation.

Once again, this is another ObamaProgram that is doomed to fail.

Key West Reader on July 2, 2010 at 5:22 PM

Number 96!….96!…..Number 97!

portlandon on July 2, 2010 at 5:17 PM

This hits too close to home as I was in DPS hell today for an hour and a half with my son getting his Driver’s License renewed. Listening to them calling A75 through our number of A 107 was sooo painful.

txmomof6 on July 2, 2010 at 5:23 PM

Dark-Star on July 2, 2010 at 5:20 PM

In order to bend the cost curve down you need to lower the longevity of the Boomer population. More doctors would be counter productive to that end.

chemman on July 2, 2010 at 5:23 PM

If you like your mortician you can keep your mortician.

pain train on July 2, 2010 at 5:21 PM

Hahahaa!!! Nah. Under the ObamaCarePlan your cremated remains will be spread in the Gulf of Mexico. They won’t sink, but they’ll be spread… perhaps all the way to Norway.

Key West Reader on July 2, 2010 at 5:25 PM

chemman on July 2, 2010 at 5:23 PM

I was referring to the fact that Obamacare will throw additional burdens on the healthcare system while providing no real increase in the number of available doctors and nurses.

Forget the Boomer generation, we’re ALL going to take a hit.

Dark-Star on July 2, 2010 at 5:25 PM

What? You mean, they LIED in order to pass Health Control? Say it ain’t so…

JamesLee on July 2, 2010 at 5:25 PM

Obama lied and people died.

BruceB on July 2, 2010 at 5:26 PM

Obama is thrilled!

Looks like Communist health care will exceed his wildest expectations and create more misery and chaos than he had hoped for!

Party at the White tooooonite!

Woo Hoo!

darwin on July 2, 2010 at 5:27 PM

Obamacare is the single worse thing that has ever happened to America and divorces every other calamity with the exception of its even eviler twin, Cap and Trade (which has yet to occur).

MaiDee on July 2, 2010 at 5:27 PM

Party at the White tooooonite!

Woo Hoo!

darwin on July 2, 2010 at 5:27 PM

White House

darwin on July 2, 2010 at 5:28 PM

Thanks Associated Press. Would’ve been nice if you’d done this fact-finding and reporting during the year-long “debate” over health care reform BEFORE it became the law. It’s not like conservatives weren’t saying it at the time.

aero on July 2, 2010 at 5:28 PM

Hahahaa!!! Nah. Under the ObamaCarePlan your cremated remains will be spread in the Gulf of Mexico. They won’t sink, but they’ll be spread… perhaps all the way to Norway.

Key West Reader on July 2, 2010 at 5:25 PM

Cool! Perhaps there they can mingle with the ashes from the Global warming/cooling causing Iceland volcano.

pain train on July 2, 2010 at 5:28 PM

while providing no real increase in the number of available doctors and nurses.

Forget the Boomer generation, we’re ALL going to take a hit.

Dark-Star on July 2, 2010 at 5:25 PM

Aahhh, you are forgetting the ones who will just retire. The number of total doctors/nurses will decrease at a greater rate than anticipated.

txmomof6 on July 2, 2010 at 5:29 PM

When I worked at HCMC in Minneapolis, the failure of patients to follow instructions for follow-up care was incredible. Patients (many from Chicago area funny enough and never had $$ to pay and didn’t bother to sign up for Medicaid) would just stop taking meds, then end up re-infected and show back up when their infections came back. I worked in the Urgent Care Dept and the ED (emergency department as we called it) would try to move patients over to us as the “cheaper” department (and non-emergent) i.e. $75 to register a patient vs $100. We used to call ourselves the clam-clap clinic–yep, that was us. We joked that we should put up a dispensers of T-3s (tylenol w/ codeine) in the bathroom and safe thousands of dollars from drug seekers too. You won’t believe the abuse the staff took with people whining about why labs took so long and not wanting to wait in line at the pharmacy to get meds. What a waste of money to the MN taxpayer… Now it’s really “free” thanks to Barry so it’s gonna get even worse.

Renwaa on July 2, 2010 at 5:29 PM

If you like your health, you can keep your health.

txmomof6 on July 2, 2010 at 5:30 PM

I like the end of life government assistence program (known as death panels) If they mis-handle those death panels as badly as they do everything else they’ve touched, there’s good chance that no one will ever die….

Don L on July 2, 2010 at 5:30 PM

Obamacare is the single worst thing that has ever occurred in America and dwarfs every other calamity with the exception of its even eviler twin Cap and Trade (which has yet to occur.)

Fixed it myself.

MaiDee on July 2, 2010 at 5:33 PM

Health Care, huh? Let’s CONGA, babay!!!!

Key West Reader on July 2, 2010 at 5:35 PM

I hate this bill with every fiber of my being… BUT

Wouldn’t the crowding be eased by the forcing of clinics, et al to take medicaid patients? Not commenting on what that will do to their bottom line, mind you, but at least in the short run the emergency rooms should be about the same. Right? It’s when the clinics run out of money… then the emegency rooms run out of money…

WitchDoctor on July 2, 2010 at 5:38 PM

Wouldn’t the crowding be eased by the forcing of clinics, et al to take medicaid patients?

Who exactly staffs these clinics? Can you say, slave labor?

txmomof6 on July 2, 2010 at 5:42 PM

If you like your mortician you can keep your mortician.

pain train on July 2, 2010 at 5:21 PM

Excellent! Is that an original line? I am going to unapologetically steal it.

turfmann on July 2, 2010 at 5:44 PM

Aahhh, you are forgetting the ones who will just retire. The number of total doctors/nurses will decrease at a greater rate than anticipated.

txmomof6 on July 2, 2010 at 5:29 PM

*facepalm*

So I did and so they will.

Dark-Star on July 2, 2010 at 5:45 PM

WitchDoctor on July 2, 2010 at 5:38 PM

Any option will be meaningless if one can’t find a medical person to care for them as government healthcare tends to create a doctor shortage.

docdave on July 2, 2010 at 5:46 PM

The biggest users of emergency rooms by far are Medicaid recipients. And the new health insurance law will increase their ranks by about 16 million. Medicaid is the state and federal program for low-income families and the disabled. And many family doctors limit the number of Medicaid patients they take because of low government reimbursements

.

Where the hell was the AP when it mattered?

ladyingray on July 2, 2010 at 5:54 PM

Crrickets

CWforFreedom on July 2, 2010 at 5:55 PM

Where the hell was the AP when it mattered?

ladyingray on July 2, 2010 at 5:54 PM

Busy fact-checking Sarah Palin’s book ?

macncheez on July 2, 2010 at 5:58 PM

Obamacare, is there anything it Doesn’t screwup?

Chip on July 2, 2010 at 6:07 PM

Hey…Take a Freakin’ Number and don’t call us, we’ll call YOU… and YOU better be there or NO SOUP FOR YOU!

CynicalOptimist on July 2, 2010 at 6:36 PM

How much more crowded can they be than now when they are stuffed wall to wall with non paying people?

Obama Care Makes Me Sick.

Wade on July 2, 2010 at 6:56 PM

I’m a little disappointed someone didn’t know this information 2 years ago and report it.

ButterflyDragon on July 2, 2010 at 7:00 PM

How much more crowded can they be than now when they are stuffed wall to wall with non paying people?

Obama Care Makes Me Sick.

Wade on July 2, 2010 at 6:56 PM

Right. People may think that the current service in an ER facility is immediate but I got news for them. If you are not super critical on the verge of death there may be a long wait for care. Once I spent most of a day in ER when I had back spasms mostly waiting between diagnostic tests. Additionally if your care requires hospitaliation, there may not be an available room so you may have to wait in one of the ER cubicles for an extend period. This also happened to me.

Obamacare can only make this situation orders of magnitude worse.

docdave on July 2, 2010 at 7:07 PM

What happened to using the ER for….EMERGENCIES?????

Discharging Queenie O. Welfayre getting checked for a hangnail is as low a priority as it was admitting her. In the meanwhile, she is occupying space in the ER that cannot simultaneously be used for someone having a real emergency. Folks are gonna die from this crap.

Sekhmet on July 2, 2010 at 7:21 PM

This is EXACTLY why so many companies have gone to Health Savings Account plans, which typically make the employee pay $1000 or more up front for a single person (mine has $1,100 for singles, $2,300 for families) before co-pays kick in. That way, people are responsible with their health care, and stop heading to the ER for a stubbed toe.

For my company, costs went down from $8k-$12k a year to $6k-$8 a year. Immediately.

William Teach on July 2, 2010 at 7:23 PM

And guess what ObamaCare shifted more of the health care to in order to keep the costs out of the federal budget so it would come in under 1 trillion? You guessed it Medicaid.

txmomof6 on July 2, 2010 at 5:20 PM

Well that explains it. I work for one of the major health insureres and for a while after the bill passed they told us we HAD to inform certain members of their possible Medicaid eligibility when they called in.

Hard Right on July 2, 2010 at 7:54 PM

Equilibrium quantity exchanged is determined by the short side of the market. Add all the new patients you want — if they can’t find a doctor willing to accept the Medicaid reimbursement rates, they wind up in the ER.

DrSteve on July 2, 2010 at 8:10 PM

medicaid is criminal. No one who doesn’t pay should be allowed in emergency rooms..

proconstitution on July 2, 2010 at 8:59 PM

Democrats ‘bent’ the cost curve so hard, they broke it! ALL this FREE healthcare will soon break our economy.

TN Mom on July 2, 2010 at 10:28 PM

All part of the plans of the DOTUS.

NOVEMBER!!!!!
NOVEMBER!!!!!
NOVEMBER!!!!!

PappyD61 on July 2, 2010 at 10:44 PM

I once heard someone who was a Medicaid recipient tell my sister that her mom called an ambulance to have something clearly non-emergent take care of because if you come in an ambulance, you don’t have to wait in line. This girl was sitting in my kitchen, and it seriously took all of my restraint not to scream at her.

I do understand medicaid for short-term situations (and even have used it myself when I was pregnant and my husband lost his job), but the long term use and abuse of it is criminal.

acleaver on July 2, 2010 at 11:01 PM

Are you watching Boston Medical on ABC, a reality show about the hospitals in Boston? Great show. Full of heart, dedicated doctors and nurses, and middle class people praying for a miracle.

All I could think was…a 77-yr-old lung cancer, a prenatal heart defect–they will be tossed aside under Obamacare.

We will witness the destruction of the greatest medical care system in the world.

PattyJ on July 2, 2010 at 11:28 PM

But see, anyone who actually works taking care of sick people could have told these rejects that Medicaid patients are the biggest abusers of ER services. That’s the worst part of this whole fiasco. You can’t fix a the problems in health care if you don’t understand what they are, and the Democrats never really cared about figuring out what they are. Either that or they didn’t really care what they were.

eyedoc on July 4, 2010 at 8:12 AM