In Healthcare Spending, Myths of the ER

In America's health-care dialogue, emergency rooms have come to symbolize the system's economic and medical defects.

In America’s health-care dialogue, emergency rooms have come to symbolize the system’s economic and medical defects. To critics, typical ERs are swamped by the uninsured, who — lacking a regular doctor or source of care — go where they will be treated. Performing routine medicine at high prices, ERs are crowded and costly. If the uninsured had insurance, these problems would recede. Better medicine at less cost.

Who could oppose that? Well, nobody. It was a selling point for the Affordable Care Act. The trouble is that the story is mostly make-believe.

Just look at the figures: People with insurance accounted for roughly 80 percent of the 120 million emergency department visits in 2006, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. Even if all the uninsured abandoned ERs — an implausible assumption — there would still be almost 100 million visits. Actually, there would be more because by 2010 the number of visits had increased to about 130 million.

Read the full story here: http://wapo.st/1d9QaAp

Source: Washington Post