Friday, August 6, 2010

Universal health insurance saves money by reducing ER visits, right?
Unfortunately, the experience of Massachusetts appears to be disproving the President’s hypothesis. Last week, the Massachusetts Division of Health Care Finance and Policy reported that, despite the imposition of universal health insurance in that state in 2006, emergency room visits increased by 9 percent between 2004 and 2008, even after taking population increases into account...

If the number of doctors stays the same, but more and more people utilize health care resources, the supply of available doctors goes down.

Hence, it takes longer and longer to get an appointment to see a doctor, and people end up right back where they started: in the emergency room. As the Globe points out, “the growing use of emergency rooms has significant cost implications, because private insurers and government programs pay substantially more for a visit to the emergency room than for a doctor’s appointment.”

Massachusetts reminds us: Access to health insurance is not the same thing as access to health care.
Copyright © Swing Right Rudie
A notebook to myself