Any government-directed “solution” is likely to make the problem worse. Much of the current uncompensated care problem is due to a 1986 law called EMTALA (the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act). This law bans hospitals from transferring patients to facilities set up to provide care to the indigent. In the process, it encourages people not to purchase health insurance and to use emergency rooms for primary care. People know that hospital emergency rooms must treat them, and cannot transfer them, even if they have no intention of ever paying for their care. So, for many, the urgency to purchase health insurance becomes less acute.
Congress predicated a federal takeover of health care on the idea that the public must be rescued from cost shifting due to the uninsured—a crisis that adds roughly 2% to everyone’s health insurance premiums. For this, Congress is forcing everyone to purchase and pay more for health insurance? For this, Congress created an unelected board that will ration care? For this, Congress raised taxes by half a trillion dollars? That’s like treating a roach problem with explosives.
As a physician, I worry about the harm that President Obama’s health care law will rain down on patients in the name of saving two percent on your health insurance.