Another Obamacare Promise Broken – Emergency Room Visits Up


Just one of the many assurances made to the American people leading up to the passage of the ObamaCare law was the promise that Emergency Rooms – clogged with uninsured patients seeking routine care for hangnails and headaches – would be cleared out for people in real need of emergency attention.

Five years and trillions of dollars later, even that meager promise has been broken.

Based on statistics, patients – citizens and illegal immigrants – going to emergency rooms for routine care instead of family doctors have actually gone up in Obama’s utopian world of “health coverage for all”.

In fact, three out of four emergency room doctors said patient visits have actually increased since the ObamaCare law’s requirement to have health insurance went into effect according to a survey of the American College of Emergency Physicians.

That’s not what ObamaCare advocates promised and puts the lie to the claim that people would go to primary care doctors for their non-emergency ailments and take the pressure off emergency rooms already struggling with too many patients. According to Katherine Baicker, a health economics professor at Harvard University:

“I think a lot of people shared our hope that when you gave people access to Medicaid, they would go to the doctor, get preventive care and not need to go to the emergency department. That’s a reasonable hope.”

That faulty thinking comes from the idea that an estimated 16 million previously uninsured people who are now covered would pull back on emergency room care if you ignore a glaring exception.

For people without the ability to pay at all, emergency rooms are still the way to go since visits to family doctors and specialists may come with go-pays and deductibles.

“There are these two competing stories,” said Baicker. “People could go less because they can visit a primary care doctor, or they could go more because the emergency department is now more affordable,” she said.

And while the emergency room is there for emergencies, there is a recognized need for patients to prevent or manage chronic conditions before they get so severe that costly emergency care is necessary.

When President Barack Obama was trumpeting his ObamaCare socialized medicine scheme as a panacea to “fix” the nation’s health system in 2009, he said:

“I think it is very important that we provide coverage for all people, because if everybody’s got coverage, then they’re not going to the emergency room for treatment.”

That might seem logical to “wishful thinking” ObamaCare supporters but it falls apart when you factor in the fact that uninsured emergency room patients turn into insured emergency room patients. The kneejerk visit to the emergency room is all some people know.

Paige Winfield Cunningham writing in the Washington Examiner notes:

It’s easier to visit the emergency room, which is open all the time, than it is to schedule a checkup. That’s especially true for Medicaid patients, as fewer physicians participate in the program due to lower reimbursement rates than what they can get from private insurance.

The problem is made worse by a nationwide shortage of primary care doctors making it difficult for the newly insured to obtain a doctor’s appointment regardless of their insurance status.

As ObamaCare opponents shouted to the mountaintops when President Obama was selling his snake oil to the American people, health insurance coverage is not equal to healthcare access.