Ten Miles Square


September 24, 2012 12:18 PM Romney Resurrects Zombie Idea About Emergency Departments

By Aaron Carroll

He went there:

Downplaying the need for the government to ensure that every person has health insurance, Mitt Romney on Sunday suggested that emergency room care suffices as a substitute for the uninsured.

“Well, we do provide care for people who don’t have insurance,” he said in an interview with Scott Pelley of CBS’s “60 Minutes” that aired Sunday night. “If someone has a heart attack, they don’t sit in their apartment and die. We pick them up in an ambulance, and take them to the hospital, and give them care. And different states have different ways of providing for that care.”


Emergency departments don’t substitute for universal coverage. They really don’t. Health care is more than emergency room care. The ER isn’t the same as health care. Everyone doesn’t have health care because they can go to an emergency room. Being uninsured makes your outcomes worse, even in the ER. The care there still isn’t free.

[Cross-posted at The Incidental Economist]

Aaron Carroll ,MD, is an associate professor of Pediatrics and the associate director of Children’s Health Services Research at Indiana University School of Medicine.


  • avahome on September 25, 2012 7:25 AM:

    Perhaps it is time to describe what happens in emergency rooms.....do the TV shows accurately portray this experience?

    I am a retiree with health insurance, my neighbor has none.
    She was under the impression that you only pay when you use the insurance.... There is a lot of education that needs to be done out here so people understand on just a basic level. BTW, an emergency room in rural Missouri is over an hour away.