That's like a lifetime of medical care! It's wrong if this prevents other people from getting care like that construction worker in this thread.
That's exactly the point. Preventive Medicine goes a long way toward cutting down on ER costs. As long as people are forced to use emergency rooms for their primry medical care, costs will be astronomical.
And the hospitals definitely shuttle everyone to the emergency room to maximize costs.
Not sure what you mean by that. Hospitals themselves are designed to treat acute conditions or those that require inpatient intervention. Emergency rooms are designed to be the intake arena for sudden illnesses, accidents, etc. They're staffed at a higher level, and the overhead is astronomical as opposed to urgent cares or physician offices.
Federal law mandates that patients be seen in the ER, no matter what their healthcare complaint might be. Patients who don't have insurance or aren't able to pay cash at the time of their visit end up going to the ER because they have no other choice. Physicians who aren't willing to take cash patients or to take payments are being sound businessmen (and business women). This is because once they accept the patient, they're responsible for treating the patient regardless of the ultimate cost.