With all the talk about reducing the crowding of California’s emergency rooms, the conversation often goes toward placing financial and other barriers on patients, to make us “self-triage” our health conditions. The philosophy seems to be: blame the victim, burden the patient. But there are far better remedies.
Our Governor and legislative leaders that are right to suggest this is one of the many reasons why we all have a interest in covering the uninsured. While the uninsured are *less* likely to go to the emergency room (they are uninsured, and thus get billed full price), when they go they are *more* likely to be in worse condition, and a possibly preventable situations has now become more expensive.
But the bulk of ER visits are from the *insured*. And there’s a portion of ER visits by the insured that happen because the patients is simply unable to get a doctor in a timely manner, and simply can’t wait for an appointment, and thus they just go to face the line at the hospital. Even with a health plan, you can’t get your doctor’s office on the phone? Can’t get an urgent care appointment within a few weeks? Can’t get a specialist for a couple of months? All reasons why people end up going to the emergency room. New regulations can help fix this, both so that those with coverage get the care they need *when* they need it, but also to help relieve problems throughout the system.
At the newly redesigned website of the Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC), there’s a notice on new hearings and draft regulations to implement AB2170(Cohn), a bill sponsored by Health Access California to ensure patients have *timely* access to care. The hearing notice is here:
The lack of ability to get care in a timely manner is one of the most common complaints of health care consumers. We’ll be watching and commentating on this one closely.