America’s Waiting Rooms of Death

So apparently I know a lot more about ObamaCare than the blog council or I would have ever thought. Admittedly while I took the online quiz I did guess on a few of the questions but when it was all said and done I got a 6/10. Now that definitely isn’t something to brag about, a 60% is still failing, but I was surprised to see that I was more informed about this policy then I initially thought. The instructions of this blog asked that we do our best to keep our political lenses off while we analyzed and learned more about an aspect of the act we knew little about so please excuse any bias that may creep in while I look further into health coverage for low-income immigrants under ObamaCare.

This was one of the aspects of the act that I got wrong on the quiz. The question asked “Will the health reform law allow undocumented immigrants to receive financial help from the government to buy health insurance?”

Being the uninformed American that I am I answered, “Yes, the law will do this.” Welp, I was wrong. This portion of the act does not expand Medicaid and health insurance exchanges that will significantly increase coverage options to those who are not legally citizens or lawfully present in America. So here’s what I’ve learned – ObamaCare will not change the healthcare benefits of illegal immigrants, at all. These individuals will not be offered Medicaid and will not receive tax benefits when purchasing private health insurance. So basically it would seems as though things aren’t going to change at all for those immigrants who reside in the United States illegally. Just like before ObamaCare these individuals do not qualify for Medicaid and are unable to purchase from the health exchange. Another facet of American health insurance regulations that wont change is access to emergency health care for everyone and anyone, including illegal immigrants.

So there you have it, that’s what I learned in terms of ObamaCare and illegal immigrants; that nothing will change at all. So now that I’ve learned about this aspect of ObamaCare with the 20/20 vision of someone unbiased by political party or preferences I think its time I put back on my politics hat. I feel I must have a disclaimer before I move forward with what I’m about to say because it could easily be read as very fucked up…in no way do I believe that if someone is in dire need of medical assistance they should be turned away due to lack of health insurance or immigration status. Now that I’ve voiced that for the whole World Wide Web to read and understand let me get to my point of dissatisfaction with our medical system in America.

“…And like everyone else, undocumented immigrants continue to qualify for emergency care under federal law.”

Again, like I said, I totally believe that anyone who is in real need of medical attention is completely deserving of assistance from a qualified medical professional. My problem with this is that there is an incredible number of people who waltz into hospitals all around the country complaining of things as trivial as a common cold or a pain in their big toe. “A BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee study showed that in more than 2 million annual emergency room visits in that state, more than half were for non-urgent care. The Integrated Care Collaboration in Central Texas determined that nine patients accounted for about 2,700 emergency room visits in that part of the country, costing hospitals, taxpayers and others $3 million.”

Abuses of the healthcare system are not new to American culture but in recent years the number of cases that do not really require medical assistance has grown extensively. Out or more than 97,000 visits to the Northeast Georgia Medical Center’s emergency room in 2008, about 28% were considered non-emergency. On top of that, 41% of cases that year defaulted on their payments. The huge costs involved in operating an emergency room that is often visited by those with non-emergency symptoms and aliments has lead many hospitals to close their emergency rooms all together.

Amy Marie Bailey, a paramedic with Regional Paramedic Services, recalls going to Wal-Mart when a man said he fell and hurt his knee. “There was no swelling in his knee, and while he rode in the ambulance paid for by Medicaid, his wife followed us in a BMW,” she says. Bailey says they have taken many people to the ER for non-emergencies. “I’ve picked up someone who just needed a ride to the hospital because they couldn’t afford a cab. Others go to the hospital for lunch. These people don’t think they have less of a right to go to the ER than others,” she says.

The abuse of emergency rooms is a real problem throughout the country and it seems ridiculous to me that this country has spent nearly the last eight years fighting back and forth over ObamaCare only to let this serious, very expensive and ethically wrong, issue be swept under the rug. I would love to know what our representatives in Washington have done to stop these abuses, but unfortunately looking at ObamaCare it seems like they done nothing. While it seems like I may have gone off on a bit of a tangent [rant] that has nothing to do with ObamaCare I think this is indicative of how our government works. As a country we complain constantly about how expansive health insurance is and yet we allow our next-door neighbors to mooch off the system without even blinking an eye. ObamaCare was designed to create equal health care rights for all those legally in the United States but it ignores a fundamental problem, that our doctors are preoccupied taking care of cuts and scrapes for free while paying patients sit in the waiting room dying. “The emergency room is the most expensive primary care you can get,” and it seems like our country is more than fine with supporting these huge costs.


4 comments on “America’s Waiting Rooms of Death

  1. It seems as if your title should be “Waiting Rooms of Cuts and Bruises.” You’re right, this is a big issue that isn’t addressed much. I just asked my dad, who works in the realm of hospital business strategy, about the effect of Obamacare on Emergency Rooms. He said demand is expected to go up with more people being covered by insurance, but the reimbursement rate for services is lower. In addition, he said the quality of service isn’t expected to change; hospitals are likely to do some restructuring to meet demand (Hopefully this isn’t just his optimism). As far as the closings of E.R.s goes, my dad says that inner city hospitals, which care for a disproportionate share of uninsured folks, will benefit from Obamacare through getting some payment for uninsured patients. Therefore, it is possible that ERs will have greater incentive to stay open.

    On another note, I wonder if the increasing number of trivial injuries being treated at the ER has anything to do with our culture of “immediate gratification.” Should I wait a few days to get an appointment, when I could be evaluated now? It doesn’t help people lessen their worries when they type minor symptoms into WebMD, and the website tells them they have a life- threatening condition.

  2. I am sure there are abuses of the system. And, because many solutions (charging upfront for ER care, suing people who abuse) would end up causing many people to NOT use ambulance and ER services, we do not institute them. We have a little utilitarian situation.

    Blue Cross is a private company, though. I would like to know more about this study before I accept it at face value as they have a deep financial stake in this.

    At the same time, in their defense, and all of ours, we all pay more for other medical services to allow hospitals to cover the losses from ERs. So, finding some solutions that limit abuse without killing people would end what is essentially a ‘tax” instituted through the convoluted health care financing system of providers, insurers, employers, and the insured.

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