Going to the Emergency Room? Get in Line Behind the Others

Essay by nesUniversity, Master'sA+, July 2004

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The next time your son breaks his arm and must wait six hours to see a doctor in the emergency room, thank the government for the inadequacy of public insurance programs. There are 10 million uninsured children in the United States; 8 million of these uninsured children are eligible for Medicaid, a public health insurance program. This high number of uninsured children directly results from increases in the number of families lacking health insurance every year since 1987. In the United States, approximately one in four persons in the nonelderly population lacks health insurance. These families often lack access to affordable employer-sponsored coverage and thus look into public insurance programs, such as Medicaid, to provide coverage for their families. The problem with programs such as Medicaid is that publicly insured children are 50% more likely than privately insured children to have unmet health needs. In fact, low socioeconomic status bears numerous consequences: poor nutrition, less educational opportunities, higher exposure to environmental hazards, and inadequate housing, to name just a few.

All of these burdens increase the chances that a poor child will have poor health. But every citizen in the U.S. should pressure government officials to better public health insurance programs such as Medicaid, not just those who use the programs, because these programs severely affect their jobs, access to emergency health care, and taxes.

Many citizens do not know that Medicaid is different from Medicare and thus do not realize the problems with it or how it affects them. Both Medicare and Medicaid are federal government programs, but Medicare is managed by the federal government and gives health care coverage to individuals 65 or older or who have a disability or kidney disease, no matter what the individual's income. Medicaid is a state-run program...