July 12, 2007 Leave a comment
Check out this recent quote from George Bush when addressing the issue of access to health care:
insurance plans. I mean, people have access to health care in America,”
he said. “After all, you just go to an emergency room.”
It is truly amazing that we could have a president so flip and just plain stupid. I was going to explain how, just in case it wasn't clear, but the fine folks over at The American Prospect have already done that:
So. Except that emergency rooms are not conveniently located in
neighborhoods all over the country, emergency rooms are not well suited
for the provision of primary care and tend to charge rather heftily for
those services, emergency room care fails to provide the kind of
continuous care that is really needed and the real intended customers
of emergency care (people with emergencies) will have longer waiting
times than necessary if the same places are also used for primary care.
Neither are emergency rooms going to provide preventive care or
prenatal care for the poor, for example, and it is highly unlikely that
the care the poor receive in emergency rooms is timed correctly from
the point of view of best health outcomes. I suspect that people wait
until they just can't take the pain any longer before going to an ER.
This means that illnesses are more advanced and treatment less likely
to succeed than if primary care was provided in the communities of the
In sum, emergency rooms are an expensive, inappropriate and unreliable way to provide primary care for the uninsured.
Obviously, my family had to spend some time in the hospital last week, but if we did not have insurance, I doubt we would have taken Alex to the ER last Monday. We do have insurance so we were able to go the pediatrician and discover that his pulse oxygen was at unhealthy low levels and that he needed more aggressive treatment for his pneumonia. Surely, his two days at Wakemed were expensive, but if we didn't have insurance, we probably wouldn't have ended up in the ER later in the week with a much more advanced pneumonia requiring a longer stay and much greater expense.