Dr. Bill Mahon says a gorgeous coast and the chance to practice a more personal style of community medicine lured him to remote Fort Bragg, Calif., 35 years ago. Farida Jhabvala Romero/KQED hide caption

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In Cheyenne, Wyo., emergency room patients who show up more than a few times a month requesting pain pills will now be told no, except in dire emergencies. A similar program at a New Mexico hospital cut ER visits by 5 percent annually, and saved $500,000. iStockphoto hide caption

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St. Agnes Hospital in Baltimore is one of the 131 hospitals run by Ascension Health. It's a not-for-profit, Catholic health care system that treats many low-income patients. St. Agnes Hospital hide caption

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Michael Granillo and his wife Sonia await treatment at an emergency room in Northridge, Calif. Anna Gorman, Kaiser Health News hide caption

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For someone with a serious injury, it's not just a matter of getting in the door at the closest hospital, but getting in the door at the right hospital, says Dr. Arthur Kellermann, an emergency medicine specialist. micheal kennedy/iStockphoto hide caption

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O'Connor Hospital in San Jose, Calif., is encouraging uninsured patients to sign up for coverage in the emergency room. Sarah Varney for NPR hide caption

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In case of emergency, go to the strip mall or the hospital? iStockphoto.com hide caption

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Jeremie Seals used to go to the hospital emergency room to avoid sleeping in his car. Kristian Foden-Vencil/OPB hide caption

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The Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games included a paean to the National Health Service, the U.K.'s socialized healthcare system. Gallo/Getty Images hide caption

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