I wonder if it wouldn't make far better sense medically as well as financially to have a 'triage' center at each emergency room that is a tad different than most are now. Those that are not in need of true emergency care are simply not treated in the expensive hospital environment at all. Rather, they could be sent to a 'walk in clinic' environment for treatment. Yes, it would still cost money to treat everyone, but surely not a fraction of what it costs the way our systems are run now.
Most public hospitals do that already...not sure about for-profit hospitals though. The "clinic" part is usually right next to or very nearby the emergency room. Several years ago I went to the clinic/emergency for a bladder infection, after trying the at-home cranberry juice remedy for a couple of days. Women know about those.
It cost almost $200, for the labs (pee in a cup), and a prescription for the antibiotic and those wonderful little brown pills that stop the spasms that make your eyes roll into the top of your head. A few years later I got another one and went back. The admitting nurse at the desk took pity on me when I said we had no insurance. She said are you sure it's a bladder infection? I said yes. So what she did was talk to a doctor, he wrote the script and I got my antibiotic and wonderful little brown pills, for about $35. I left with the promise that if I didn't get better, I would come back, because some infections are more serious than others. I have no idea what the full cost would have been that time, but I'm sure it would have been higher than the other time.
Truthfully, except for saving the money for "emergency" doctors that would see you, and the "emergency" cubicles you still wait in, the cost for medical care is still prohibitive for a lot of people. I mean, I had no choice by that time but to go for help, but if a simple bladder infection costs over $200 in a clinic, forget about any kind of routine yearly checkup or something like that at a regular doctor's office.
My husband has
to go to a cardiologist every year to get his blood pressure prescriptions renewed. This doctor was referred to us by an out of state hospital when he had problems with his other BP medications on a vacation, ended up in the hospital, and was told to see a cardiologist when we got back home. Turned out the old BP medications didn't work in high altitude...so he was okay after all...after an $8000 bill for that.
Anyway, of course on his first visit for the complete checkup, that was an arm and a leg. Although I don't remember exactly how much now. But because the doctor knows we don't have insurance, unless he notices something or the hubby complains of something, he skips the yearly cardiogram so we can save the money. It's basically, hi, how ya feeling? "Pretty good." while the doctor takes his BP. And then the hubby walks out with his prescriptions and that office call is "only" $90.
I just finished paying off a hospital bill from 2004. Another one will be paid off this month. That one only took about 8 months to pay off. Both for the husband.
I haven't seen the inside of a doctor's office for anything in 25+ years. I guess I've been lucky. I managed to get through menopause without any hormones. Which might be a good thing now that we're hearing about all the cancer associated with hormones. I did do something to my right knee a few years back. Hyper-extended it or something when stepping off a ladder and missing that last rung. I just put myself in a knee brace from the drugstore for about 8 months, and worked with it by exercising and stretching it, until I could walk normal again.
We're still too young for Medicare. With the hubby's health history and our ages now (63 and 62) private insurance would run us upwards of $800 to a $1000 a month, (maybe more now) if we can even get it. And the deductibles would be astronomical, I'm sure.
It's kind of ironic in a way, because it wouldn't pay us to get insurance unless we did end up with some horrible disease or injury that would tally up hundreds of thousands of dollars in bills. For us, hospital and doctor bills when we are forced to do it, are like having a car payment for a second car that never gets paid off.
Sorry, I tend to rattle on when this subject comes up.