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

itoggle caption Anna Gorman, Kaiser Health News

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

itoggle caption Sarah Varney for NPR

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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