Friday, December 26, 2008

The Economy's Impact on ED Visits...

As the year's end approaches, I wonder what the ED will be like. During a recession, people loose jobs and for the most part, their health insurance, which is tied to their employment. Very seldom will people still have the ability to pay their health insurance premiums without employment.

That said, it is a vicious cycle. People loose their jobs, they loose their health insurance and still need health care. But most often, without insurance they do not get routine health care, (except perhaps for their children). Parents tend not to be selfish, and will still provide for their kids at the expense of their own health and needs. People are less likely to take care of themselves and end up looking for episodic care - care when they need it. They forgo elective hernia repairs or perhaps put off having their gallbladder removed because of the loss of insurance.

People also tend to suffer not only financial but also emotional distress. Depression, drug and alcohol dependence, anxiety, etc. increases. The bottom line, society suffers in more than one way. And the impact on the ED - perhaps more visits for sicker and more desperate people who can't afford to pay their bills. They come to an even more expensive health care environment (the ED) to have their needs met.

Whether this will ultimate happen, is yet to be seen. But if the economy continues in a downward spiral with more people loosing their health insurance along with their jobs, the results are inevitable. With the new Obama administration, perhaps more will be insured, but the jury is still out. Financing for health insurance has to come from somewhere, and if that means from public funds either additional taxes, or cuts in other programs will have to pay for a hefty and expensive plan regardless of what the final product looks like...

No comments: