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Obamacare: emergency room visits have increased since 2014

May 5, 2015

 You might remember that during the Obamacare debate one of the key selling points Barack Obama used in an attempt to gain support for the legislation with the American people was that emergency room visits would decline because the formally uninsured people would now be able to visit a primary care physician instead of relying on the emergency room for primary care. This was supposed to help bring down the costs of healthcare.

  It turns out, according to this story, not only has that not happened but emergency room visits have actually increased since the law was passed. (And of course the cost of healthcare has not gone down) Here is more: 

Doctors say emergency room visits have increased since the advent of Obamacare, undercutting one of the key selling points of President Obama’s health care law, which was supposed to ensure a healthier population by pushing consumers to rely on their primary physicians rather than emergency trips to the hospital.

Three out of four ER doctors said they have seen a rise in the number of patients since January 2014, when Obamacare fully kicked in, according to a survey conducted by the American College of Emergency Physicians. More than a quarter of the doctors said they have seen a major surge, and 47 percent said the rise has been slight.

The doctors said they fear a spike in visits could overwhelm their resources: Seven out of 10 said their departments aren’t prepared for a significant increase in patient volume.

The biggest cause is a lack of primary care doctors to treat the increased number of patients with health care coverage, so the patients are turning to the emergency room instead — exactly what wasn’t supposed to happen.

“Just because people have health insurance does not mean they have access to timely medical care,” said Michael Gerardi, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians.

Some patients also may be in the habit of turning to emergency rooms or have a hard time getting away from work for daytime checkups.

“There’s such a hassle factor in making an appointment,” said Avik Roy, a senior fellow at the conservative Manhattan Institute. “It’s just a lot easier to show up at the emergency room.”

  This does not necessarily mean that Obamacare is responsible for this increase in emergency room visits–although the lack of primary care doctors to cope with the increase of newly-insured people signals a major flaw in the plan–but I think it does show us this issue is more complex than Barack Obama led the American people to believe with his simple talking points and flowing rhetoric. 

Malo periculosam libertatem quam quietum servitium

13 Comments leave one →
  1. May 5, 2015 9:03 pm

    I think the new law is probably responsible for increased hospital visits, since people who formerly couldn’t get insurance, and now have it, use it for all varieties of care, including the ER. Another reason is that in small towns like mine, the only doctors who will accept Medicaid (which expanded under the ACA) are the ones at the hospital.

    When you say something like “the cost of healthcare has not gone down”, the statement needs context. For 18-26 year-olds it went down, because they are able to stay on their parents’ insurance, which costs less than paying out of pocket. Same goes for those who qualified for Medicaid. We taxpayers pay less for them now than when they had no insurance. We had to subsidize their care at full price previously.

    In states that decided not to accept Medicaid expansion, private insurance premiums have gone up generally. If you used to have one of those high-deductible (crap) plans that didn’t give you much coverage, your cost went up, but so did your coverage. In states that accepted Medicaid expansion, the cost of both care and insurance sometimes went down dramatically, sometimes lowered a bit, and sometimes went up. There are 50 different measures of success or failure. Confusing.

    Medicare’s another story. It’s definitely costing less, people are getting better care, and the doctors are getting paid better too. However, it doesn’t cover as much as it used to without supplemental insurance. Medicare supplemental insurance is relatively cheap, but the population of patients 65+ has difficulty comparison shopping by computer, and many seem not to understand that without it, your out-of-pocket can be huge.

    It’s a very complex situation, so I do not believe the PPACA was sold to us on an intentionally deceptive basis. It’s not possible in the case of health care to reduce either the facts (objective) or the truth (subjective) to simple talking points. Who could have predicted SCOTUS would declare the individual mandate to be a tax (for example) when even those who wrote the law didn’t think it was?

    I still firmly believe some form of universal care (Medicare for ALL) administered by the government (the “public option” that was eliminated) is preferable to this cobbled-together mutation STILL ruled by private insurers (grrr) we have in Obamacare. But I can’t really figure out if it’s working or not nationally – only that it’s working in my state (WA).

    Liked by 1 person

  2. May 6, 2015 8:44 am

    Meanwhile rural hospitals are going bankrupt. All has predicted and planned.

    Liked by 1 person

    • May 6, 2015 3:02 pm

      Again, that depends on the state, whether they run their own exchange, whether they accepted the Medicaid expansion paid for by the feds, and how many primary care doctors are there. Our hospital has 35 beds, the smallest I’ve run across, and they are adding a new ER and replacing two buildings just from the increased business since 2012.

      Liked by 1 person

      • May 6, 2015 4:00 pm

        Do you work in healthcare? I worked in upper management for 30 years and I can tell you that you are sadly misinformed. A few with large endowments are doing well, or those that have a few specialties that have high reimbursements. Mega health systems are in development, Doctors are paid employees, and the end game with be universal healthcare with mandatory limitations. After all maybe we would be better off with just a pain pill as Dear Leader told us.

        Liked by 1 person

      • May 6, 2015 4:12 pm

        I’m a Senior Imaging Tech, former Medical Assistant, Financial Asst (intake) in hospitals, CNA etc. I’ve worked in hospitals from tiny to huge (downtown Los Angeles), family clinics, urgent cares and specialized care facilities in three states. I don’t take the position that because I’ve probably worked in more kinds of clinics at more different levels than you that I know more or less. Many feel that the experience of labor is inevitably opposed to that of upper management, but I’m not a very adversarial employee.

        I’m informed by my experience, and it appears to be different than yours, which doesn’t invalidate either. I was honest about how things are here in a town of 9,000.

        Liked by 1 person

      • May 6, 2015 4:09 pm

        Search Results
        Why one-third of hospitals will close by 2020 –…/onethird-hospitals-close-2020.htm.

        Liked by 1 person

      • May 6, 2015 4:13 pm

        Sorry. I try not play the “my Internet sources are better than yours” game. Sometimes I get caught in that trap – but not today 😀

        Liked by 2 people

      • May 6, 2015 4:13 pm

        Sorry,I hit wrong link, but plenty out there.
        Rural hospitals in critical condition – USA Today…closings…/18532471/

        Liked by 1 person

      • May 6, 2015 5:45 pm

        Happy that you had a good experience. I and 500 of my fellow worker bees lost our jobs and I will soon lose my pension to Obamacare. The law was just changed last year that allows Hospitals off the hook as well as Erisa. Sorry I cannot be as detached as you.

        Liked by 1 person

      • May 6, 2015 7:30 pm

        Thanks for all this information Invisible Mikey and Bunkerville. Here we have two people in healthcare who have had two totally different experiences and it highlight what I said in the post; this is a much more complex issue than Barack Obama led us to believe in his talking points when this was being debated.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Zip-a-Dee permalink
    May 6, 2015 4:56 pm

    The ‘health care’ was never about health care or helping the masses, I think it’s more about control, increase in insurance prices and (again) deconstruction. “Out-of-pocket medical costs for Americans rose by 11 percent this past year, and the ability to pay those bills got a lot more difficult…” “Deductibles have nearly doubled over the past 5 years through the adoption of high-deductible plans …”

    Liked by 1 person

    • May 6, 2015 7:31 pm

      I think you are right, this was about getting control of one of the most personal aspects of our lives and in the process it was also designed to eventually lead to single-payer in my opinion.

      Liked by 1 person

      • May 6, 2015 10:07 pm

        The creation of Mega health systems that the government can dictate to and set what kind of treatment and for how long we get it. We willingly go to the slaughter.


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