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91% Think Emergency Rooms Should Treat Those Without Health Insurance

Americans believe overwhelmingly that someone without health insurance should be treated in an emergency room if they are seriously injured, even if they are in this country illegally. 

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 91% of Adults think hospital emergency rooms should treat someone without insurance if they are in a serious accident and brought in in serious condition. Just six percent (6%) feel a critically injured person without insurance should not be treated. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Support for emergency room care drops slightly to 76% when the seriously injured person is an illegal immigrant. Seventeen percent (17%) think victims of serious accidents who are in this country illegally should not be treated in emergency rooms.

Americans dramatically overestimate the number of uninsured people who use Emergency Room services. Thirty-nine percent (39%) of adults estimate that half or more of emergency room patients receive treatment but don’t have health insurance. Another 20% think one-in-four of those who go to emergency rooms for care don’t have insurance. In reality, according to figures from the Department of Health and Human Services, about 11% of all Emergency Room expenses are provided to those without insurance. Fourteen percent (14%) correctly estimated that the number was about one-in-10. Just six percent (6%) underestimate the total and believe that “only a few” emergency room patients are uninsured. Twenty-one percent (21%) are not sure.

Sixty-four percent (64%) of Americans say they personally have been taken to an emergency room for a medical procedure of some kind. Thirty-three percent (33%) have not.

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The survey of 1,000 Adults was conducted on August 2-3, 2011 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

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