A few months ago I wrote an article on the Colorado Health Insurance Insider about how it’s not the uninsured who are causing overcrowding in emergency rooms. I explained the gist of it, but Dr. Rich at The Covert Rationing Blog has done a far better job of it. (Read the whole article, and remember what your high school English teacher taught you about satire, irony, and humor before you get all fired up).
For anyone who thinks that our system will be fixed once we get health insurance for those who are currently uninsured, Dr. Rich’s article should be thought provoking. Yes, being without health insurance in the US is a scary situation, and the sheer volume of people who are uninsured is a problem. On an individual level, each person and family without health insurance is taking a significant risk – one that I’m sure most of them would rather avoid given feasible options. But from a large perspective of the whole health care system, just providing health insurance to the uninsured would still leave us with a pretty big mess (not to mention the bill for that health insurance coverage). We don’t have enough primary care docs, our drugs are too expensive, our hospitals are too focused on turning a profit, we spent more than any other country on our healthcare, and yet our results are mediocre at best.
Many thanks to Alvaro Fernandez at Sharp Brains, who hosted Grand Rounds this week, where I found Dr. Rich’s article. The Colorado Health Insurance Insider article about the cost of treating the uninsured at Denver Health was included this week. There’s lots of good medical reading, so head over and check it out. And here’s hoping that Dr. Rich gets to spend Christmas dinner inside, at the table (although he might have to settle for the kids’ table unless he’s on his best behavior).