“Americans are sicker than ever.”
A report from the Emergency Room, with a compassionate and accomplished doctor I’ve known a long time.
“Americans are really sick. Sicker than ever. And the emergency rooms are really getting hit. Diabetes epidemic, obesity epidemic, the asthma epidemic, congestive heart failure, more and more renal failure from the diabetes, and then the psychiatric stuff. What’s really getting bad is depression. With psychotic breaks, they end up in the emergency room too. It’s all tied together.
“By law, the ER must treat you before they ask your insurance status. So it’s not a bad law; it saves lives. But, it’s an unfunded law. And more and more people can’t pay. So the insurance companies, Medicare and Medicaid are cutting back reimbursement, so we ER docs are working harder and harder for less and less money.
“Nationwide, admissions to emergency rooms are growing at 5% a year. Some hospitals are going out of business, and some are closing their emergency departments. And it’s not only that people have no place else to go, it’s also because there’s no place else that’s appropriate for them to go.”