Do the Homeless Get Free Medical Treatment at American Hospitals?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous' started by Ro_Laren, Nov 25, 2012.

  1. Ro_Laren

    Ro_Laren Commodore Commodore

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    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?
     
  2. 1001001

    1001001 I Like the Beats and the Shouting Moderator

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    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.
     
  3. Ro_Laren

    Ro_Laren Commodore Commodore

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    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!
     
  4. 1001001

    1001001 I Like the Beats and the Shouting Moderator

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    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.
     
  5. Ro_Laren

    Ro_Laren Commodore Commodore

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    ^ Lol, don't worry, I wasn't thinking of doing this. I just always wondered if it is possible!
     
  6. 1001001

    1001001 I Like the Beats and the Shouting Moderator

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    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.
     
  7. propita

    propita Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    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.
     
  8. milo bloom

    milo bloom Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    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.
     
  9. Robert Maxwell

    Robert Maxwell Comfortably Numb Premium Member

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    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.)
     
  10. Roger Wilco

    Roger Wilco Admiral Admiral

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    Surely they get a cast for a broken leg or something, but do they get chemo? Do they get insuline, etc.?
     
  11. Robert Maxwell

    Robert Maxwell Comfortably Numb Premium Member

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    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.
     
  12. bigdaddy

    bigdaddy Vice Admiral Admiral

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    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.
     
  13. milo bloom

    milo bloom Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    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.
     
  14. Tora Ziyal

    Tora Ziyal Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    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.
     
  15. Drago-Kazov

    Drago-Kazov Fleet Captain

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    What if you are foreigner and there is an emergency?
     
  16. Count Zero

    Count Zero Says who? Moderator

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    You get treated but you end up with a high bill unless you have insurance. Don't travel to the US without insurance because you might end up with a bill of 1000s of dollars. Happened to the friend of an acquaintance.
     
  17. bigdaddy

    bigdaddy Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Actually Obama could have based a single payer system. He had the votes in the house and the senate, but he didn't push for it hard enough, because, like most liberals, he's a whiney crybaby that just sits in the corner and bitches about Republicans instead of taking them on. I will never forgive him for the fact he just sat around and did nothing while the bill got watered down into nothing. Companies shouldn't have control over my health and profit from me being sick, or let me die because it's cheaper.

    Tora Ziyal
    I couldn't get health care through my job, because of Mass Health. At Lowes you could get insurance for part time workers until Masshealth passed, then it was dropped. Then I quit that job, and got a seasonal one that pays more. So now even through I'm not employed, I'll probably have to pay some stupid monthly fee based on a jobI no longer have.
     
  18. Robert Maxwell

    Robert Maxwell Comfortably Numb Premium Member

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    Absolute nonsense that isn't even a little bit true. Obama wanted a public option and fought hard for it. He didn't even have the votes for that, not even from his own party, even though he said there would be no healthcare reform without it. Congress called his bluff and he had to drop it, which resulted in the individual mandate instead. To say we didn't get single-payer because Obama didn't "fight hard enough" is just factually wrong. It wasn't going to happen, not with the makeup of Congress at the time. Sorry.
     
  19. Shaw

    Shaw Commodore Commodore

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    Actually, Obama did have the votes for a single payer system but wanted a bipartisan solution. The (single) Republican that Obama targeted was Olympia Snowe. The plan was watered down until she was willing to vote for it in the Senate Finance Committee (which she did), but then she voted against it in the final senate vote (making it pretty much a wasted effort and a lost opportunity for the rest of us).

    At the time it seemed like Obama didn't want to believe what Republicans were saying quite loudly... they didn't care what the costs to the country, they were going to do anything to stop him from being successful at anything if they could help it so he would be a one term president. This clashed with Obama's priorities of the early days of his presidency where he put bipartisanship above anything else (including healthcare for the rest of us).

    The thing is, Obamacare isn't just based on Romney's plan, it is based largely on the Republican alternative proposal to Hillary Clinton's 1993 healthcare plan. Obama wanted a bipartisan solution when one wasn't needed or even (in my opinion) possible.

    I don't think we will know why Obama truly made the move he did until after he is out of office, but I'm guessing that he thought the Republicans were just making a lot of noise back then but would be reasonable if presented with a reasonable plan. Plus it should be noted that Obama is more conservative than most Democrats (many of his policy choices mirror the types Nixon or George HW Bush would have made actually... though we would have gotten better healthcare from Nixon). The fallout from the Republican party being hijacked by the right is that most everyone else ends up a Democrat... which hurts debate.
     
  20. Shaw

    Shaw Commodore Commodore

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    Nothing is free... even if you don't pay right away, the bill will follow you. You can't be refused because you can't pay at the time, but there is always a bill.

    You can not get treatment (unless your unconscious) until you give consent... which requires identification.

    Like voter fraud, these types of scenarios (of hiding IDs) are so rare as to be laughable... they are put forward as talking points. People who can't pay have outstanding bills in limbo while the actual costs are past onto the rest of us. But as soon as someone with one of those bills attempts to make their lives a little better (with, say, a job) their wages will end up garnished pushing them back down... all because of an emergency room visit.

    Nothing is free.