Hospitals Trying To Lure More Patients Into Emergency Rooms

From Phil Galewitz’s very interesting article about how some hospital chains are trying to bolster profits by luring more people into emergency rooms: “Many hospitals are actively recruiting people to come to the ER for non-emergency reasons,” said Anthony Keck, South Carolina’s Medicaid director, citing facilities that tout their speedy ER service on highway billboards. “When you are advertising on billboards that your ER wait time is three minutes, you are not advertising to stroke and heart attack victims,” he said. Gov. Rick Scott’s (R-FL) old hospital chain HCA is at the front of the pack, launching “a major ER marketing campaign in the past year in Virginia, Florida, Texas and other states. The campaign includes billboards highlighting average ER waiting times and a service that provides waiting times to smartphone users.” One wonders if the good governor will explain to his old colleagues that such efforts only increase the nation’s health care costs and stress state health budgets.