How Many Texans Does It Take to Fill the E.R.?

No, this is not a joke. Abuse of Emergency Rooms is a growing problem that cost's everyone. For many, the E.R. is their PCP (primary care physician).

In Texas the E.R. seems more like an old friend to some.

In the past six years, eight people from Austin and one from Luling racked up 2,678 emergency room visits in Central Texas, costing hospitals, taxpayers and others $3 million

Nine people, 2,678 E.R. visits, $3,000,000.

Who are these people?

All nine speak English; three are homeless; five are women whose average age is 40, and four are men whose average age is 50. Seven have a mental health diagnosis and eight have a drug abuse diagnosis.

That last statistic is significant.

At one time, many with mental health issues were confined in state run facilities. Budget cuts and "patient rights" advocates changed all that.

All 9 speak English. That does not mean any are U.S. citizens.

According to the report, the average E.R. visit cost's taxpayers about $1,000. The total spent on these 9 people average $55,000 per year. Institutionalization is much less of a tax burden than $55,000 per year.

That's $55,000 in "free" care that is borne by taxpayers, insurance policyholders and those who are financially responsible for their own medical bills.

The group who collected this data has information on 750,000 uninsured and "underinsured" people.  The database includes 900 repeat offenders . . . people who visited an ER six or more times in three months – had 2,123 preventable visits in 2007.

A preventable visit is one that could have been treated in a non-emergency care facility such as a doctors office or clinic.

The cost of preventable visits?

More than $2,000,000.

If we want to control health insurance premiums, and taxes that go to entitlement programs such as Medicaid & SCHIP, then we need to find a more effective way of controlling health care cost. Identifying repeat offenders and finding more efficient ways of dealing with their medical issues is a step in the right direction.

 

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