Many emergency room physicians see themselves as soldiers in the forward trenches of the national healthcare system. And the latest dispatch from the front indicates not so much a weakening of resolve among the troops as a pessimism about the progress of the battle.
According to a survey of 2,000 ER doctors by their specialty society, the American College of Emergency Physicians, 79% say the number of uninsured patients they expect to see in the coming year will increase.
Already, 72% said the number of uninsured patients they saw in the past year had risen from what they observed previously.
The society said results from the poll, supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, showed "overwhelming agreement" that uninsured patients are more likely than insured patients to delay care and put their physical and fiscal health in jeopardy. In keeping, 74% of ED docs surveyed said the uninsured are more likely to die prematurely.
What to do? The poll didn't say.
But 57% of those questioned said providing basic universal healthcare coverage was the number-one goal in improving the national healthcare system.