Letters to the Editor

ER care is limited

To the Journal editor:

At a recent (Jack) Bergman town hall, an attendee said that repeal of the ACA could kill her, because she depends on it for coverage of necessary medical care.

Someone responded in a local paper by advising her to “do what people without insurance have always done –show up at an emergency room.” I had hoped this notion had been put to rest, but apparently not.

ERs provide emergency care, but not monitoring or chronic care. Suppose you’re over 50 and both your parents died from colon cancer. If you’ve never had a colonoscopy, you’re overdue for one.

But you’re not getting it at the ER. So let’s say you’re eventually diagnosed with colon cancer. Now you need surgery, then radiation and chemo. Again, not happening in the ER.

Suppose the cancer advances and now you’re in serious distress. You’re taken to the ER, where they run up an enormous tab trying to save your life. Say you survive and are able to go home. You’ll receive a hefty bill from the ER, which you may be unable to pay. If you’re lucky, the hospital may cut you a break and you’ll be able to continue paying the rent so you won’t be homeless.

Meanwhile, the ER raises prices on everyone else to make ends meet, and taxpayers likely have to foot the bill for various social safety net programs that are utilized due to your being unable to work.

The ACA keeps lots of “critical access” hospitals alive, because it enables patients to pay their bills. These hospitals (there are 11 in the Upper Peninsula) are often the biggest employers in their communities.

If the ACA is repealed, some may fail, hurting everyone who works in them or relies on them for care.

This is not how health care in America should work.

Tom Gutowski

Elmwood Township

Leelanau County