Wednesday, May 23, 2007

An Orange a Day Keeps the Doctor at Bay . . .

The (Orange) county's Primary Care Access Network or PCAN, will be opening a new health-care clinic in July to help the estimated 200,000 people in Orange County who either don't have medical insurance or don't carry enough of it, said Debbie Belanoff, a PCAN program manager.

Many of those people wind up going to a hospital emergency room, which costs three times more than a typical office visit to a doctor, she added.

This is an idea that could have legs.

So what happens when a patient visits an ER and cannot pay?

Those costs are passed on to other patients, driving medical costs higher for everyone.

Yup! You & I pay.

So if we are going to pay anyway, why not look for a lower cost, more efficient model?

"By law, we can't turn anyone away from the emergency room," said Joe Brown, a spokesman for Orlando Regional Healthcare. "We typically see about 1,700 uninsured patients each month."

That's about 57 patients per day who will pay little or nothing for the care they received.

A typical emergency-room visit costs about $300, while that same visit to a clinic is just shy of $100, Brennan said.

Because area residents would be picking up the tab for the working poor in one way or another, funding a clinic is a better use of resources.

I agree.
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