I thought this post, “ER Mythology in Health Care Reform“ by RangeMD was really interesting. We have all probably heard about the impact of ER visits on the overall economy, especially with the recent healthcare debate. The common belief is that ER visits by uninsured patients end up costing tax payers millions or billions every year. I have heard this so much that I have ended up believing it, but it may in fact not be the case. According to RangeMD,
“using emergency room utilization as a measuring stick for health care reform appears to be dubious at best. The liberal mythology is that the uninsured flood emergency rooms for all aspects of their care but this is simply not supported by the evidence.”
According to RangeMD, uninsured ER patients make up only about 15% of ER visits and usually have to foot the bill, or at least a large portion of the bill. He goes on to say that an increase in the number of insured individuals oftentimes has the paradoxical effect of increasing, not decreasing, ER visits. This is because newly insured individuals, who oftentimes are in poor health or live unhealthy lifestyles, are no longer worried about the costs of ER visits. They also tend to live in more rural areas where primary care is not as readily available so they may be forced to visit emergency rooms. I just thought that this was a rather eye-opening perspective on the impact of ER’s on healthcare and the economy.