Healthcare.org's Benefit Felt in PA Emergency Rooms
December 2, 2013- Tom Joseph
HARRISBURG - Two months after its introduction,
HealthCare.org, the website Pennsylvanians are using to enter the health
insurance marketplace, is taking more applications every day. It's also seen as
a tool through which emergency rooms can lessen the burden of being a
"go-to" for the uninsured.
According to Paula Bussard, senior vice president, policy
and regulatory services, at The Hospital and Healthsystem Association of
Pennsylvania, instances of that happening are so prevalent that emergency rooms
have had to factor it into their game plans.
"They really quickly triage individuals for those
needing the emergent care, but then also have the staff resources to take care
of those that lack a primary care physician and doctor."
Bussard said that despite early challenges, her group
supports the concept of the health insurance marketplace.
"It does improve the ability for individuals to get
health insurance," she said. "Individuals lacking health insurance
have a lot more problems in accessing health care than those of us who
Bussard said that last year, Pennsylvania hospitals
provided nearly $1 billion worth of care to individuals without health
insurance. She said hospitals make it a priority that emergency room patients
see doctors who are appropriate for their level of need, from critical-care
doctors on duty for true emergencies to the use of primary-care physicians
supported by nurse practitioners and physician assistants for non-emergency