Monthly Archives: November 2013

The ACA, Urban Legends, and Data

For years an urban legend has circulated that the poor and uninsured use emergency departments as a substitute for a doctor visit because hospitals are non-profits and won’t turn these sick and injured patients away.

You don’t have to be in healthcare or public health to “know” that hospitals won’t or can’t turn anyone away. The overcrowded, underfunded “county” hospital is a common trope in television and movies; County General Hospital of “ER” fame is probably the most prominent example. The fictional doctors there routinely treated the indigent and homeless, and their outrage at greedy private hospitals dumping uninsured patients on their doorstep was a recurring plot point.