A lawyer’s experiences show why ObamaCare makes economic sense

If an injured person in the trenches of the US health care system needs immediate medical treatment, they will get it. It’s the American way of helping the wounded. When was the last time we saw a hospital reject a bleeding patient, or a person in the emergency room with a compound fracture? If a hospital did that, we’d see outrage on the nightly news.

As a personal injury lawyer, I know the facts. People without health insurance are treated and that treatment is fully amortized by the hospital. How did this happen? What happens is that a hospital social worker enters the patient room and performs a financial assessment. They’ll ask the obvious questions like, are you married, do you have a job, and do you have health insurance?

For argument’s sake, let’s say the patient is single, lives alone, and has lost their job in the past year. Guess what, that patient is one of those uninsured Americans. Now not only are they uninsured, but they are seriously injured. So what’s the prospect of them paying the bill soon? The hospital simply writes it off as a bad debt in some cases, not all cases. Or they may choose to just put the patient into debt collection with no real prospect of payment and ruin their credit.

So you write off an irrecoverable debt. The work is already done. How does the hospital earn back the money? The answer is that you charge the next person with the insurance more money. You have to pass on the fixed costs somehow. For example, you can’t own a fruit stand and give some of the fruit away to starving people and not try to raise your prices for the remaining stock. After all, the fruit stand owner also has bills to pay.

As a personal injury attorney, I see the lack of affordable healthcare hurting the economy in even more ways. For example, I occasionally get a call from a person claiming to have suffered an injury and want to file a lawsuit. So I listen to what happened and immediately determine that the injuries sustained do not constitute a viable liability claim. When I tell the person I’m not interested because I don’t see liability, I get the standard back. “All I want is my medical bills paid”. In other words, the person hoped he had a lawsuit because he had no insurance. The person knew or should have known that they had a negligence claim, but they are desperate to pay off their debt.

The issue is clouded by the idea that even though the claim is marginal, an attorney could try to pursue a settlement because of the injuries. Remember that the client is desperate to pay medical bills. The attorney only presents the client’s argument. The risk for the lawyer is that he has nothing to lose and nothing to gain. However, the cascading effect occurs because when a lawyer gets involved, it costs the insurance company money.

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The reality is that most people would never think of suing or filing a claim if they had insurance. The whole motivation behind a lawsuit is not money. The whole motivation is the payment of medical bills. That is why the Affordable Care Act will ultimately save billions of dollars and help US citizens get the health care they deserve.

Legitimate claims for damages are made every day. These plaintiffs must be compensated for their injuries caused by the wrongful acts of others. The uninsured person interfering with legitimate claims places a significant burden on the economy, the taxpayer and the legal system. So why not provide affordable health care?