Flooding ERs

What would happen if masses of uninsured people started flooding emergency rooms? I know that many ERs receive non-emergeny patients, with and without insurance, and I know this is a problem for many of them. I also know that going to a hospital (or a family doctor, for that matter) is not anyone’s idea of a fun time. But what if Joe Lawnmower or Benny Trucker or Wally Homelessperson goes to the ER every time he has a moderate sprain or when he suspects his blood sugar is low? If they can’t pay, they can’t pay; and so the general public pays through higher insurance premiums. At what point do the public say enough is enough, and say they shouldn’t have to pay higher insurance rates to pay for people who don’t have insurance?

From what I know from the people I know who don’t have insurance, they already do. The first few times you hear that your family member “spent the evening in the ER” you think “Oh dear!” but after that you start think “Eh, fuck those guys.”

And yes I tell people this any time I hear them bitching about socialized medicine or even the new ACA. “I don’t want to pay for other people’s health care!” We totally, totally already do.

What do you mean IF??? that is exactly what happens every day in ERs across the country. People show up with stomach pain that started 6 months ago. People show up because they haven’t pooped in 2 days, because they have a mysterious bruise on their thigh, or their period is two days late and they want a pregnancy test. Many people without insurance are forced to turn to the ER as their primary doctor.

Johnny L.A.–I’m genuinely surprised at a Doper of your talent not understanding that it already happens, 365 days a year.

The ER’s are flooded with uninsured people that use it as their only source of medical care. Therefore, the ER’s prioritize. People that are seriously injured, bleeding out and who’s life can be saved get first priority. Insured people with an urgent need get next priority (the hospital knows they will get paid). People on Medicare or Medicade with an urgent need go next (at least the hospital will get paid something). Others, good luck. Take a number and have a seat.

Sadly, there are those who vehemently fought the ACA by saying that everyone has health care, they can go to the ER. My reply to that is like saying to the people in the Superdome after Katrina, “These people aren’t homeless, they are living in the Superdome.”

Yeah, that’s kinda why I said:

I’m talking about people flooding the ERs. Like ‘Occupy ER’, only they actually have medical issues. Instead of someone waiting six months to present with stomach pains, they come in right when the pains start. Many (most?) people don’t go to an ER unless they absolutely have to. What if the masses of uninsured decided, ‘Screw it. I’m not going to wait until the situation is acute. I’m going now.’

To the best of my knowledge, patients are seen in the emergency department in order of severity of their illness/injury and the order in which they’ve arrived. Insurance is not a factor.

Of course, it is a factor in what kind of follow-up care they’ll be able to get after they leave the emergency department.

If the situation isn’t acute, the ER is not legally required (and not really practically equipped) to treat them for free. EMTALA mandates that hospitals provide screening exams and treatment for emergent medical conditions, not comprehensive healthcare to anyone who walks in the door:

Some of the women who go to the ER for a pregnancy test do this because they believe (usually erroneously) that if they are pregnant, they can get an abortion while they’re at the hospital.

I have a relative who got divorced some years ago and her ex had to pay the kids’ medical bills, so she would do this kind of thing just to soak him. :mad: Thing is, they think she’s da bomb and want nothing to do with their father OR his entire family, and nobody will tell me why and honestly, I probably don’t want to know.

FTR, the strangest visit reasons I’ve seen are “Cannot find pulse” (think about it) and a 2-week-old baby whose umbilical cord fell off. We assumed that the parents thought it just kind of dried up like a scab. :o: