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Old November 25 2012, 06:33 PM   #1
Ro_Laren
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Do the Homeless Get Free Medical Treatment at American Hospitals?

I’ve been under the impression (perhaps just from TV), that homeless people in America can go to the hospital and receive medical treatment for free. They sometimes don’t give their name or use something like “John Doe” or “Jane Doe.” Is that paid by Medicare or Medicaid (I can’t remember the difference between the two)?

If homeless people can get treatment for free, what is to stop someone that isn’t homeless from getting free treatment at the hospital? What if you show up with an emergency, but refuse to give your name or a fake name? I know from experience, that when you show up to the hospital you have to give your name and insurance info (I had my appendix taken out in college). But, if you had a real emergency that had to be treated right away like a heart attack, etc., could you get away with free treatment? If you didn’t have any ID on me, does that mean you can get away with saying you are homeless and not have to pay?
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Old November 25 2012, 07:06 PM   #2
1001001
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Re: Do the Homeless Get Free Medical Treatment at American Hospitals?

It's not just the homeless, it's anyone without insurance.

Assuming for the moment that someone who is in an emergency situation has the presence of mind to try an concoct a scam...it usually wouldn't work. There are lots of reasons for that.

Let's say you're hit by a car, and taken by ambulance to the nearest hospital. They will treat you, but then...The hospital would require a social security number, and with electronic databases and HIPAA, they would probably find your true identity quickly. After the emergency phase has passed, a hospital social worker or some such person would be assigned to the case, and do some digging. They pursue payment vigorously while you're in recovery. They would see if you qualify for any federal programs (like Medicare) and have you enroll. Or they would transfer you as quickly as medically possibly to a public hospital (like a county facility) which receives federal funding for the uninsured (called an FQHC facility).

You would rack up hospital bills under that social security number, and receive many bills in the mail (whatever address you give). An electronic health record would be generated, with identifying information.

In other words, it's not just a walk-in, walk-out kind of thing. The hospitals work very hard to prevent that kind of fraud (hell, I have to show my medical card, AND my driver's license just for regular doctor visits).

If you have insurance, the co-payment for emergency room care is usually pretty small (ours is $50, some go as high as $500. Not bad compared to the usual $10,000 - $30,000 bill). It's not worth committing fraud to get "free" care in some dismal government facility.
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Old November 25 2012, 07:14 PM   #3
Ro_Laren
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Re: Do the Homeless Get Free Medical Treatment at American Hospitals?

But, what if you didn't give your Social Security? Some people don't have it memorized, so they could just say that they don't know it!
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Old November 25 2012, 07:21 PM   #4
1001001
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Re: Do the Homeless Get Free Medical Treatment at American Hospitals?

Ro_Laren wrote: View Post
But, what if you didn't give your Social Security? Some people don't have it memorized, so they could just say that they don't know it!
The social worker assigned to the case would find it.

And everyone knows their social security number!



Again, if you have insurance, it would not be worth it to try a scam like this. You'd get better care for pennies on the dollar, without risking prison.
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Old November 25 2012, 07:24 PM   #5
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Re: Do the Homeless Get Free Medical Treatment at American Hospitals?

^ Lol, don't worry, I wasn't thinking of doing this. I just always wondered if it is possible!
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Old November 25 2012, 07:29 PM   #6
1001001
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Re: Do the Homeless Get Free Medical Treatment at American Hospitals?

Ro_Laren wrote: View Post
^ Lol, don't worry, I wasn't thinking of doing this. I just always wondered if it is possible!
Well, sure. Anything is possible.



I'm just saying the system has built in protections. HIPAA being the biggest one.

Once Health Care Reform is fully in place, it may be a moot point anyway.
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Old November 26 2012, 01:46 AM   #7
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Re: Do the Homeless Get Free Medical Treatment at American Hospitals?

That's why Medicare and Medi-Cal (in CA) lose money! So many people do not pay anything.

Hubby works at a children's hospital. Well over half the kids get free medical care. And now that he's in a different department, dealing more directly with the parents, he's seeing exactly how many of these parents, receiving FREE medical care, are demanding pricks. On some, the child has a problem directly because of the parents' action or inaction, or because the parent isn't following instructions in caring for their child. Yes, things were clearly explained.

While Hubby and I are Dems, we agree with Romney on 25% (not 47%). Hubby's seeing a lot of this on the medical side. My attorney friends tell me about it on the legal side. Yes, there are a lot of deserving people needing medical and legal help who can't pay for it, but there's also a good number who either don't deserve it or are wrongfully far more demanding than anyone working their ass off to pay for it themselves.
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Old November 26 2012, 05:54 PM   #8
milo bloom
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Re: Do the Homeless Get Free Medical Treatment at American Hospitals?

The thing about the ER care is that it's only "stabilizing care". It's not long term treatment for cancer or diabetes or anything like that. Until he was able to get a Medicaid card from the state he lives in, my diabetic brother in law would have ketoacidosis (sp?) crashes which would require an ER visit to stabilize, and then he would be turned back out until the next time. He had no money to pay for long term treatment because he couldn't work because of the symptoms so he couldn't get the long term treatment so he couldn't work because of the symptoms so he couldn't work....

Absolute and universal healthcare - I have no problem whatsoever paying a little more in taxes so that we don't have an "invisible" class of people slowly dying.
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Old November 26 2012, 06:02 PM   #9
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Re: Do the Homeless Get Free Medical Treatment at American Hospitals?

1001001 wrote: View Post
It's not just the homeless, it's anyone without insurance.

Assuming for the moment that someone who is in an emergency situation has the presence of mind to try an concoct a scam...it usually wouldn't work. There are lots of reasons for that.

Let's say you're hit by a car, and taken by ambulance to the nearest hospital. They will treat you, but then...The hospital would require a social security number, and with electronic databases and HIPAA, they would probably find your true identity quickly. After the emergency phase has passed, a hospital social worker or some such person would be assigned to the case, and do some digging. They pursue payment vigorously while you're in recovery. They would see if you qualify for any federal programs (like Medicare) and have you enroll. Or they would transfer you as quickly as medically possibly to a public hospital (like a county facility) which receives federal funding for the uninsured (called an FQHC facility).

You would rack up hospital bills under that social security number, and receive many bills in the mail (whatever address you give). An electronic health record would be generated, with identifying information.

In other words, it's not just a walk-in, walk-out kind of thing. The hospitals work very hard to prevent that kind of fraud (hell, I have to show my medical card, AND my driver's license just for regular doctor visits).

If you have insurance, the co-payment for emergency room care is usually pretty small (ours is $50, some go as high as $500. Not bad compared to the usual $10,000 - $30,000 bill). It's not worth committing fraud to get "free" care in some dismal government facility.
This is the correct motorcycle.

Hospitals actually will, in many cases, not pursue bills against genuinely indigent patients. You can't get blood from a turnip, and it's not worth it to even try, so better to just write it off for the tax break instead. But if someone has income, assets, and/or insurance, you naturally want them to pay, even if they can't pay all at once.

Homeless people just aren't going to care that much about their credit score, and they have no way to pay anyhow, so they get care at no measurable cost to themselves. Everyone else ends up paying for that.

I, for one, support universal coverage for everyone. Maybe not "free" for everyone, but a sliding scale based on one's income. (And yes, everyone who has income would pay taxes into it, too.)
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Old November 26 2012, 06:09 PM   #10
Roger Wilco
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Re: Do the Homeless Get Free Medical Treatment at American Hospitals?

Surely they get a cast for a broken leg or something, but do they get chemo? Do they get insuline, etc.?
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Old November 26 2012, 06:16 PM   #11
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Re: Do the Homeless Get Free Medical Treatment at American Hospitals?

Roger Wilco wrote: View Post
Surely they get a cast for a broken leg or something, but do they get chemo? Do they get insuline, etc.?
That is a good point. However, if someone is really that poor, they should be eligible for Medicaid, which provides for all necessary care at no cost (if you truly have no money.)

Different states have different standards on who can get it, though.
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Old November 26 2012, 07:53 PM   #12
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Re: Do the Homeless Get Free Medical Treatment at American Hospitals?

I live in Massachusetts an we have "socialized" health care system that you have to buy health care or you are fined. It was created by Mitt Romney and Obama based his health care plan on it.

It works as long as you never work. I didn't have a job when it first came around and never had to pay a co-pay, went to hospital for free, never did a thing. Six months after I got a job they screwed me over and dropped me. Which reminds me I need to call them and see what is going on.

Pretty much, the American health care system is the biggest joke in the world, and "Romney-Obamacare" doesn't really do a thing to fix it.
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Old November 26 2012, 11:08 PM   #13
milo bloom
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Re: Do the Homeless Get Free Medical Treatment at American Hospitals?

bigdaddy wrote: View Post
I live in Massachusetts an we have "socialized" health care system that you have to buy health care or you are fined. It was created by Mitt Romney and Obama based his health care plan on it.

It works as long as you never work. I didn't have a job when it first came around and never had to pay a co-pay, went to hospital for free, never did a thing. Six months after I got a job they screwed me over and dropped me. Which reminds me I need to call them and see what is going on.

Pretty much, the American health care system is the biggest joke in the world, and "Romney-Obamacare" doesn't really do a thing to fix it.

While I agree Obamacare is a poor substitute for universal/single-payer what-have-you, I still support it because it has managed to push the idea into the public discourse that access to healthcare just might be a human right. There's no way Obama could have passed single-payer, but now us far left loony liberals have something to sink our teeth into and drag the conversation back to the left a little bit.
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Old November 27 2012, 12:49 AM   #14
Lumos Ziyal
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Re: Do the Homeless Get Free Medical Treatment at American Hospitals?

milo bloom wrote: View Post
bigdaddy wrote: View Post
I live in Massachusetts an we have "socialized" health care system that you have to buy health care or you are fined. It was created by Mitt Romney and Obama based his health care plan on it.

It works as long as you never work. I didn't have a job when it first came around and never had to pay a co-pay, went to hospital for free, never did a thing. Six months after I got a job they screwed me over and dropped me. Which reminds me I need to call them and see what is going on.

Pretty much, the American health care system is the biggest joke in the world, and "Romney-Obamacare" doesn't really do a thing to fix it.
While I agree Obamacare is a poor substitute for universal/single-payer what-have-you, I still support it because it has managed to push the idea into the public discourse that access to healthcare just might be a human right. There's no way Obama could have passed single-payer, but now us far left loony liberals have something to sink our teeth into and drag the conversation back to the left a little bit.
Bigdaddy, am I correct in assuming that you're eligible for insurance through your employer now? 'Cause that's the way the similar Maryland program works -- there's a state health insurance pool for people who can't get private insurance because of pre-existing conditions, who don't have insurance through an employer, and/or whose COBRA has run out, but who are not eligible for Medicaid or Medicare.

Milo Bloom, this far left looney liberal is with you one hundred percent.
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Old November 27 2012, 01:00 AM   #15
Drago-Kazov
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Re: Do the Homeless Get Free Medical Treatment at American Hospitals?

What if you are foreigner and there is an emergency?
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