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Has Obamacare Led to Increased Reliance on Emergency Medicine?

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lots of people waiting for care at er

A new poll of the American College of Emergency Physicians shows that patient volumes have increased since January 1st, 2014, when the ACA requirement to have health insurance went into effect.

According to Dr. Michael Gerardi, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians,”The reliance on emergency care remains stronger than ever. It’s the only place that’s open 24/7, and we never turn anyone away.

More people getting access to necessary medical care is a good thing, but seventy percent of physicians surveyed are concerned that their emergency departments are ill-equipped to handle this increased patient volume. Over a third of those surveyed even reported that they’d considered leaving the profession.

Dr. Christian Balldin, board certified orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist with The San Antonio Orthopaedic Group, was interviewed by 1200 WOAI Radio on why an increased reliance on emergency medicine isn’t necessarily a good thing.

According to Dr. Balldin, part of the problem is “lack of information on the patient’s part that they shouldn’t go to the emergency room for routine medical care.” People who have never had medical insurance before may not realize that the ER is by far the most expensive place to seek care and 24/7 availability should not be the reason to choose to be seen there. WebMD explains how to tell when to go to the ER.

Another issue is timely access to care. Patients on Medicaid or exchange health plans may have difficulty finding physicians and specialists who will accept their insurance. With very limited networks, even if an in-network doctor is found, there may be a long wait to get an appointment.

If you need to seek medical care, consider the best place to seek that care. True emergencies should be handled by the ER, but other issues could wait for a doctor’s appointment or be treated after hours by an urgent care center, minor emergency clinic, or a specialty walk-in clinic like the OrthoNow Injury Clinic. If in-network coverage is an issue, consider asking facilities about cash rates for out-of-network patients, which sometimes can be less expensive than in-network rates, especially if you have a high deductible health insurance plan.


NOTE: We cannot provide medical advice or diagnoses without seeing a patient in person.

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