The U.S. Senate recently tried to expand a program that offers low-cost health insurance to uninsured children from low-income families. This program has helped many, but more resources are needed because of the large unfulfilled need. President Bush has threatened to veto the increase in funding, saying, “People have access to health care in America. After all, you just go to an emergency room.”
While it is true that everyone can rely on an emergency department to provide dependable treatment for hospital patients in a medical emergency, it is designed for just that — an emergency. Huge numbers of uninsured persons swamp our emergency rooms, which are not designed to provide primary care.
It is not feasible for an emergency department to help people manage chronic conditions that are more appropriately managed by a primary-care provider, such as a family clinic. The uninsured frequently have to rely on the emergency department because of laws that make the department unable to turn away the uninsured.
However, this further complicates the situation because emergency room visits are far more expensive than seeing a primary-care provider. This drives up the cost of health insurance for others, which just makes it more unaffordable for working families.
As a health care provider, it amazes me that government seems inadequate (because of bureaucracy and corruption), and unable to help the uninsured, who coincidentally due to socioeconomic factors, are the most in need of health coverage.
There are very few people who have been vocal and a positive factor in the change of policy. This single issue affects ever single person’s health care.
However, the average American seems indifferent to it because he or she doesn’t believe it affects him or her. If half as many Americans would write a letter to their congressman as those who followed the Paris Hilton scandal, change in this country’s health care policy would be drastic and rapid.
John Gooch, Tracy