Are you having chest pain, a possible miscarriage, shortness of breath or abdominal pain? You should head into the emergency room and get that checked out.
Well, unless you are poor.
In an effort to cut back on Medicaid costs, the state of Washington is proposing a new set of “non-emergent” conditions that are no longer are covered if you go into the emergency room too many times in one year. Among those new “not an emergency” symptoms are excessive bleeding due to possible miscarriage, pain that could indicate severe appendicitis or organ failure or the tell-tale signs of the beginnings of a heart attack.
Under the new system, if you are a Medicaid patient you are allowed three “non-emergent” visits to an emergency room each year, otherwise, you need to either see your primary care provider (whenever you can manage to make an appointment with him or her) or you can have your claim denied and be forced to cover the full costs out of pocket.
But don’t worry, the system isn’t totally heartless. There are a few exceptions to the “three visits then you’re done” rule. If you happen to die in the E.R., they won’t turn down your final claim.