ERs Continue to Close Despite Growing Need

ERs Continue to Close Despite Growing Need

My husband is unemployed, and has been for months now, following a company buyout and move. He had worked for the company for five years. I work as a freelance writer, and have been since 2008, when I, too, was laid off from a company I had thought I’d be with for many years, after serving as the nonprofit’s editor for nearly three years. We do not have healthcare.

If something happens to us, we’re going to need an emergency room for sure—though we will also pay a pretty penny for it. But hell, even when we had healthcare, we were still charged an arm and a leg to visit the urgent care centers and doctors around us. Between our daughter’s prematurity, a root canal, a surgery for blood poisoning, and not much else, we still have over $6,000 in medical debt that we are continuing paying off—even more slowly now that our income has been reduced. Everything from the anesthesiologist’s office to the blood work gets paid separately, with huge hunks of money that are non-negotiable and that you are not informed about beforehand (I wonder if any of us would opt to not be put under for surgery if we knew?). Even the brief, two-minute “How are you’s” I received in the hospital from doctors cost me $120 bucks a pop! These weren’t surgeons, mind you, but my own family doctor and her partner, who were simply practicing out of the building those respective days. Why were mere minutes of their time worth that many hours of work for me?

And the costs of healthcare are only going up.

So yeah, if we get really sick or hurt right now, we will most likely have to use the ER. I would probably try a Walgreens clinic first, though the last time I did my bronchitis was misdiagnosed as allergies, and I almost developed an infection. Way to go, Walgreens! (And Fox & Friends wants me to get a pap smear there? Please.)

But it looks like our options for emergency rooms may be running low. All across the country, ERs are shutting down—despite both growing need for their use AND growing need of nurses for jobs. Since 1990, the number of available emergency rooms has dropped 27%. The urban poor are the most affected, with ERs in these areas 40% more likely to close than other ERs.

I get everyone’s concern about the government screwing up our healthcare if they took it over because they’ve screwed up so much else—but we seem content to let them socialize our children’s educations, our military, our social security, our healthcare for both the aged AND themselves, and plenty of other crap—and I, for one, am extremely uncomfortable with allowing so many of our hospitals to be run not by the government at all, but by religious institutions. In fact, every hospital within driving range for us is religiously affiliated. I really don’t want to put my life in the hands of people who won’t even let me get myself—nor my husband—sterilized because it’s against “God’s plan,” no matter how much that plan puts my own life in danger.

So how about stepping up and doing your job, eh, guv’nah? How about getting your tax-paid noses out of our bedrooms and backyards and start putting them to the grindstone and getting us access to affordable, ready healthcare?