All is Not Fine with the Emergency Room Fine
I have to examine the numbers more carefully before commenting on the overall plan, but this part of Rhode Island’s new small business healthcare plan, as described by Felice J. Freyer in yesterday’s Projo, seems troubling…
You pay through the nose — $200 per visit — if you go to a hospital emergency room with a problem that does not lead to being admitted.Obviously the state is trying to discourage people from using emergency rooms for non-emergency care — which may or may not be contributing to rising healthcare costs.
Yet at the same time, the state is also blocking alternative treatment facilities designed specifically for dealing with immediate but non-emergency care from opening in Rhode Island. Taken together, the policies seem to be designed to discourage people from seeking non-emergency care at all. I know that’s not the intent, but it’s the kind of stupid dysfunction you get when you try to manage individual human decision making through government planning.
And would anyone like to take a stab at explaining how charging people what is in essence a fine for using the emergency room helps to reduce costs? At first glance, the $200 surcharge seems more like a backdoor way to subsidize indigent care (those without insurance get still get emergency room treatment for free, right?) by grabbing money from families teetering on the edge of the middle class than it does a plan for real cost control.