If someone can’t afford private health insurance on their own, it’s highly doubtful they can afford the cost of an emergency room visit. My last ER visit cost nearly $5,000. Two years ago a family friend had 3 ER visits in two weeks time that ended with her being hospitalized for about a month with several surgeries. She had to declare bankruptcy because there was no way she’d ever be able to pay the near $100,000 bill generated. The hospital had to eat the costs, which then increases everyone else’s bill.On the plus side, she was forced to quit smoking cold turkey during her hospital stay and she’s been smoke free ever since.