How Obamacare Is Changing the ER

Our Hospital Emergency Room Sees 400 Uninsured Patients Each Month. My Job Is to Get Them Covered.

Every month, nearly 400 people without health insurance visit the emergency department of the San Jose hospital where I work. Some of them come in after an accident. Others have chronic health problems but have nowhere else to go—their primary care physician is basically the emergency room.

In the past, all we could do for many of these patients was offer them a quick fix: bandage them, take away their pain, and send them on their way. Most of these patients were low-income but didn’t qualify for Medi-Cal, the federal-state program …