Weird Twist! Medicaid Expansion Sending People to the ER

Weird Twist! Medicaid Expansion Sending People to the ER

With the passage of Obamacare, Medicaid has been drastically expanding statewide. But the Medicaid expansion creates further problems.

 

Can Hospitals Survive the Medicaid Expansion?

 

“There’s no free lunch; nothing is truly free… Someone will have to pay this,” said Rand Paul, Senator of Kentucky, at a recent visit to the Hopkins County Chamber of Commerce last week.

And who pays? Washington. How does Washington get the money? Taxes. Who pays taxes? Us.

Are you seeing a trend here?

The Affordable Care Act, in its infinite wisdom, has decided to expand a useless and broken system: Medicaid. Medicaid, which is a form of insurance through the Federal government, is primarily used by low income citizens.

The problem with Medicaid is that it pays less to health care providers than most other insurance companies, so more often than not it doesn’t get accepted.

“Hospitals get 89 cents for every $1 spent on Medicaid and 86 cents for every $1 spent on Medicare, according to the American Hospital Association.”

To make it worse, Emmett C. Hennessey, CEO of Beacham Memorial Hospital said, medical care is being run, not by the doctors, but by the bureaucrats.

“They decide how much, or even if, a patient’s care will be covered, making it almost impossible to get approval for emergency surgery, he said. “If they say no, I eat it.” (Washington Times)

The ACA requires states to expand their Medicaid programs in order to enroll more people into the program. Doing so not only increases the demand for Medicaid, but also decreases the number of doctors who would be willing to accept it.

Getting Medicaid doesn’t necessarily mean that you get healthcare provided to you, or if you do, it’s usually a lower quality of care and a higher waiting period in order to see someone.

Instead of going to local hospitals and doctors, in order to bypass the ineffectiveness of the care and time to wait, most people enrolled in Medicaid will turn to the Emergency Room, which brings about more problems.

Giving poor people health insurance, the belief was, would decrease their dependence on hospital emergency rooms by providing them access to more appropriate, lower-cost primary care.

But a study published in the journal Science finds that’s not the case.

…In other words, people are going to the emergency department for things that aren’t emergencies. This is exactly what policymakers hoped to avoid by giving people health insurance – including the huge increase in Medicaid coverage coming as part of the Affordable Care Act.

And the increase in ER use found in the study was significant – “about 40 percent,”  said Amy Finkelstein, an economics professor at MIT and one of the authors of the study. (NPR)

Many of these people seeking care are doing so in a place that is supposed to be used for emergencies, but are going there with illnesses easily treated at local facilities or urgent care providers. So the problem ends up cycling over on itself and creating a bottleneck.

In essence, this is a quantity over quality situation. What should be done is to have the states granted the power to improve the quality of care given to those with insurance, either private or federal, instead of making a one-size fits all mandate that does not cater itself to the needs of the community it’s trying to provide for.

And this is the fundamental problem: the Federal government, although with good intentions, does not have the right familiarity with each of the states’ communities. Thus, a general law that enrolls a mass amount of people into health insurance fundamentally fails due to how little it can actually apply to your needs.

The solution, other than allowing states the ability to increase the quality of care, might also be to educate people properly on the ways in which they can seek out care and where they should go. But then again, you can only lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. And if he also has a free lunch, then someone will have to pay for it.

So as Medicaid expansion creates further problems, and Washington continues to drive the ACA down the American peoples’ throats. We’re left still asking questions about when things will get better.

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(Photo courtesy of David Boyle, via Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0)

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