There are so many angles to this story. Where are the insurance companies? Do they condone these practices? Recall, they were the ones slapping high coinsurance and copayments for ER use in an effort to redirect care to cheaper settings? Are consumers willing to pay the price in exchange for a quick diagnosis? The Kaiser/Post story focused on one insurer, Medicaid. What about the rest? What are the relative costs of using the ER to treat bronchitis versus going to the doctor’s office or to an urgent care clinic. One hospital administrator whose facility is not far from Denver told me the cost of an uncomplicated ER visit would be two to three times more for the same service in a doctor’s office or an urgent care clinic. Where are the primary care doctors? Are they turning away commercially insured as well as Medicaid patients? Will more of them magically appear because under health reform the government will pay them a little extra money? And then there’s the biggest question of all: Do we as a country really want to control medical costs—and, if so, who should be responsible for doing it?

Last year, the Akron Beacon Journal previewed this new hospital marketing tool. Yep. Akron is a hotbed for promotions of ER waiting times. A spokesman for Akron General told the paper its door-to-doc campaign was geared at patients “who don’t have to call 911 to come in.” That about says it all, doesn’t it?

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Trudy Lieberman is a fellow at the Center for Advancing Health and a longtime contributing editor to the Columbia Journalism Review. She is the lead writer for The Second Opinion, CJR’s healthcare desk, which is part of our United States Project on the coverage of politics and policy. Follow her on Twitter @Trudy_Lieberman.