Simple Math: Keeping People out of the ER = Saving Money

08/30/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

I won't bore you with the humanitarian or moral reasons for supporting a plan to provide adequate health care coverage for all Americans. Therefore, I will attempt to appeal to your more pragmatic side. It will save you a lot of money.

I know that it doesn't make sense initially but insuring 50 million of our neighbors that don't currently have health insurance is cheaper than leaving them uninsured.

People often do not understand that the 50 or so million people that do not have health insurance still get sick and injured and receive medical care; they just don't fully pay for it. They pay whatever they can or in many instances nothing at all.

The uninsured also delay seeking medical attention for fear of the expense involved and present when their conditions are more advanced and more difficult and expensive to treat.

They are also forced to go to their local hospital's emergency room (ER) for major and routine ailments since private physicians cannot afford and therefore are unlikely to see them in their private offices. The emergency room is the most expensive setting possible for the uninsured to receive care.

Care provided in the ER for non-emergency issues is horrifically expensive (as compared to more appropriate settings i.e. a private physician's office or a walk-in care clinic) and creates unacceptable wait times and delays in care for others.

U.S. emergency rooms are and have been in crisis for years. The reasons are many but a singular universal truth is that the forced burden of caring for the uninsured in the ER is physically and financially crushing the entire system.

Potential areas for savings

  • Providing health care coverage for all will allow 50 million of our neighbors to seek care in a timely fashion before they are on deaths door, thus making their care far less expensive.
  • It will significantly lessen the wait time in America's emergency rooms... time is money.
  • It will decrease the inappropriate use of one of the most expensive departments within a hospital, the emergency room.
  • The ability to regularly visit a private physician will allow for preventive health care and potentially fewer expensive visits to specialist.

It's simple. If we can get 50 million people out of the ER and into a private physician's office, Americans save a fortune.