Monday, June 09, 2014

Under Obamacare More Non-Emergency Patients Using Emergency Rooms; Expanding Unreimbursed Costs Crisis

A study on Oregon's medicaid expansion showed an increase in emergency room use in 2008-2009 when patients got insurance coverage. Under Obamacare that is now being duplicated in other parts of the US.  USATODAY:
Norton Hospital [Louisville, Ky.] has seen its packed emergency room become even more crowded, with about 100 more patients a month.
That 12 percent spike in the number of patients — many of whom aren't actually facing true emergencies — is spurring the Louisville hospital to convert a waiting room into more exam rooms.
"We're seeing patients who probably should be seen at our (immediate-care centers)," said Lewis Perkins, the hospital's vice president of patient care and chief nursing officer. "And we're seeing this across the system."
Obamacare was supposed to cut down on emergency room use because those previously without health coverage would now be able to go to a primary care doctor with their new medical coverage. But, the reverse is happening.

Some say it is because there are too few primary care doctors for the new Medicaid case load. Certainly the healthcare system clientele has expanded under Obamacare.

However, the real problem is that Medicaid, which has seen an 8.2% expansion (4.8 million through March 31, 2014*), underpays considerably the actual cost of care given. So, doctors either don't take Medicaid patients or limit the number they do take. Doctors and their staffs don't like working for less than minimum wage or actually paying to care for patients.

The PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center network in Vancouver, Washington, alone took a $35.9 million loss in 2012 from cost of Medicaid care given vs. Medicaid reimbursement. So, they are paying to care for Medicaid patients. Multiply that by the more than 5,000 hospitals in the U.S., and it becomes big, big money loss and heads the U.S. healthcare system directly towards disaster. That is on top of the obvious crisis in actual medical care of not being able to give quick, complete emergency care to those who really need it in clogged ER waiting rooms.

H/T Byron York


MAX Redline said...

Good catch, TD. I read the article in USA Today, and noticed the relative scarcity of physicians in regard to the expanded Medicaid caseload, and I knew that doctors were limiting the number of Medicaid patients. I also know that many are opting for early retirement rather than participate in the Obamacare farce.

But I didn't catch the millions of dollars in losses that hospitals are being forced to absorb. For all his talk about "sustainability", he's taken a system that worked reasonably well for most folks and morphed it into something that simply can't last long.

Nice work on your part!

T. D. said...

Thanks, Max. The Medicaid funding fiasco (which is oozing over into a similar Medicare funding fiasco with the cutting of a half a trillion dollars from Medicare funds) is going to hurt big time. Right now Medicare patients are treated pretty good. You may see Part B costs soaring or another type of supplementary coverage instituted--leaving regular Medicare people adrift.