Urgent Care Review
As the US gets older, the need for Emergency and Urgent care also rises. The existing physician shortage in the U.S. is expected to degenerate over time. Other issues are amplifying this shortage as well, including the shrinking economy and the recent signed into law health care reform.
General Care Deficit leads to Emergency Room Physician shortage
According to a press release by the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, Urgent care physicians will have loads of work accessible from Medicare, but they may not choose it. Medicare offers less desirable fees than private insurance so Primary Care physicians are much less likely to take on new Medicaid patients. As an end result, up to a third of all Medicare patients may not be able to find a Primary Care physician at all and may ultimately turning to Emergency care care as a last choice.
Some geographic areas are hit harder than others by these this information, such as Arizona. In some areas of the desert state, Primary Care doctor-to-citizen ratio is less than 6 doctors per 10k residents, according to a study by St. Lukes. The result of many more people not having access to general care will be an increased use of Emergency Room and Urgent Care centers. Naturally, Emergency and Urgent Care physicians are going to have their plates full if this trend is not dealt with.
Weakened Economy results in Crowded Clinics
As the weakening economy runs its track; many of the working to lower class are findg they are without available and affordable health benefits. Insurance policies are failing at an alarming rate, and citizens receiving COBRA coverage are also running out of options. With the axe coming down on reasonable healthcare, many people have decided they must do without fitting preventative healthcare. As you might predict, when the intensity of the condition can no longer be deferred with rest and home remedies, and starts to intensely interfere with daily life, the E.R. may be the only remaining place to turn to. Through the stock market crash, the housing bust, and record breaking unemployment records, emergency rooms and Urgent Care clinics are filling up faster than ever.
Baby Boomers in the ER
Another dilemma in the intensification of Urgent Care cases in the United States is due to another socioeconomic group that cannot be ignored. The baby boomers will result in an intense increase of the 65 and older demographic. This group statistically requires considerably more assets, personnel, specialists, and physician care. They need hospital and Emergency room services more and more often than any other age group.
Can Health Care Reform Solve ER problems?
Whether the health insurance reform will decimate us or not is neither here nor there. While it has passed and been signed into law, the main changes are not set to go into full effect until 2014. The repercussions of the reform may not be fully noted for years after that. Emergency & Urgent Care clinics overcrowding is a severe problem, given the growing number of geriatric patients, uninsured patients, and underinsured patients. If the health insurance reform doesn’t address the problems it promises, then the troubles cannot be expected to get better. Emergency room overcrowding is no new problem. What the health insurance reform should deal with is the loss of emergency room facilities. Between 1993 and 2003, the continental United States lost over four hundred Urgent Care facilities. What can uninsured patients do? Besides hoping that an ambulance can get them or their loved ones to a closely located ER facility in time, they can’t do much. In that same period, Urgent Care Clinic visits greatly increased by over twenty five percent. Doctors in these scenarios will absolutely have their caseload cut out for them.
Even with the healthcare proposal finally signed into law its effect on our insurance programs is not known. By 2014 their will be an increase in the enrollment into insurance programs. This increase when, combined with the long term aging of the population, should push demand for services and therefore cost higher. However, no one yet knows what will happen to reimbursement rates from Medicare and this new program. The issue is will there be rate a cut of reimbursement rates for different specialties by Medicare and this new program that may conversely become a factor decreasing the wages of all specialties including Emergency Medicine, and related specialties / subspecialties.