The ER does not count as health care

There are many odd things people say all the time about health care in the United States, but this one always makes my hair stand on end (emphasis not mine):

While speaking out against Democratic proposals to increase access to quality, affordable health care, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) claimed, “all Americans have health care, every single one.”

He is, of course, referring to the emergency room.  Yes, if you go the emergency room with an emergency they will treat you.

There are so many reasons why this is not the same as “health care”, but I’m going to list just a few:

  1. The ER is still not free.  You still get billed.  It can still bankrupt you.  And it’s expensive.
  2. Even if it’s free, someone (taxpayers) have to pay.  Why is Rep. King OK with that?
  3. You cannot get primary care in the ED.  No screening tests.  No vaccinations.  All the stuff we want people to do, you can’t get done in the ED.
  4. You can’t get chronic disease management in the ED.  No diabetes care.  No asthma care.  No ongoing care.
  5. If you wait until you get sick enough to go to the ED, you’re going to be less healthy than if you took care of you

Is that enough?  This is like arguing that since you can take your car to the shop when the engine dies you never should get the oil changed or the gas tank filled.  You need both.

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