Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Bush Tells Uninsured "Just Go to Emergency Room"

In the President's speech in Cleveland he touched on health care. My hospital administrator friends likely would be surprised by what he said.

I mean, people have access to health care in America. After all, you just go to an emergency room. The question is, will we be wise about how we pay for health care.

Yes, Mr. President how will we pay for all those expensive ER referrals you just made? In San Angelo the average ER charge was $775 per visit in 2004. The uninsured accounted for over $11 million in charges between the two area hospitals, with over 80% borne by our nonprofit community hospital. Contrast that with an average charge of $76 at our community health center.

Your suggestion of "just going to an Emergency Room" works against your very next sentence as it isn't a wise use of resources. In discounting the existence of a major social problem you provide just the wrong solution. Adding to the error of your ways is your tax code reform which would give tax cuts to 5 million people making over $50,000 a year but only reduce the number of uninsured by 2-4 million.

And health savings accounts, while growing in numbers, provide help for only 1.5% of the population. When have producers flipped pricing behavior for such a small segment of the market? And doctors have a track record of changing practice patterns based on coverage. The current volume needs to grow by some 30 times to have a significant impact.

Your solutions won't make health care any better for the legions of uninsureds in America. But heck, there's no problem. People just need to go to an emergency room!

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