The big myth is that hospitals have an obligation to treat you. They don’t really. They have to stabilize you. I worked in reception in ER for three Chicago hospitals. None of them would treat you beyond getting you stabilized. Then it was out you go to Cook County.
And yes it was not unheard of for people to come in without ID. In my experience no one ever refuses to give a name. They just give a fake name and of course, “Can’t recall their SS# off hand.”
Hospitals don’t keep you around longer than they have to. My former boss had a stroke and the ambulance took her to Oak Park Hospital. Her insurance wasn’t accepted there. So after getting her stable they shipped her to Northwestern Hospital in Chicago (a much better place) as her insurance would pay for it. (Of course her insurance, covered the ER treatment at Oak Park, but it would only do so for till she was stable)
The other thing is ER will not do more. Cook County Hospital will treat you but that’s it. If you have an asthma attack they will give you a puff of the rescue inhaler and run tests, but that is all. They don’t give you a prescription for asthma medicine. The ER will refer you to free clinics (city sponsored and private) to get the long term treatments.
This is a big gripe for a lot of uninsured patients I know of. I know of one lady that has been to Cook County Hospital four times so far this year for asthma. I asked her why she doesn’t get a referral to a clinic and get an inhaler. She said, it takes too long to get into the clinics, they’re dirty and all she gets is a prescription she can’t afford to fill anyway.
So you can see how jacked up the system is. This lady can command the expense of an ER for something treatable like her asthma, when the ER could easily give her an inhaler and be done with it.