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Brigham Young University




As the numbers of uninsured mount4 because of job dislocations, exhaustion of benefits, and unaffordably high premiums, the incidence of "dumping" by private hospitals is, predictably, on the rise. Dumping occurs when a hospital, in violation of federal or state law, transfers an emergency patient to another (usually public) hospital or simply refuses any treatment based on the patient's inability to pay.5 In addition to the completely uninsured, favorite dumping targets include Medicare and Medicaid patients, AIDS patients, and cancer patients whose therapy may cost more than the maximum reimbursement under private insurance.

Dumping is merely a part of what is commonly referred to as the "health care crisis" which, in turn, is really a crisis involving two related, but distinct, issues: access and cost. There are two common themes to the complaints about health care voiced by consumers, insurers, providers, and politicians. These are (1) its high (and growing) cost and (2) the fact that millions have no access to good, consistent care because they are uninsured. Dumping is a blatant example of the difficulties the under- and uninsured face in securing access to health care.

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