Health insurance coverage could increase ER visits

health insurance coverage emergency room ER visits

A study has suggested that those who are newly insured may start visiting emergency rooms more often.

A Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist has indicated that previous predictions that the reduction in the cost of heading to the ER through a rise in health insurance coverage rates would cause the number of visits to increase, have not lost their relevance.

Research has now indicated that the newly insured among the poor are more likely to head to the ER.

health insurance coverage emergency room ER visitsThe research was conducted in the Boston area and offered evidence that people newly enrolled in the national expansion of the Medicaid program, which went into effect last week, are more likely to go to the emergency room for treatment than those who have kept up their uninsured status. The researchers feel that this is the best evidence that has been available so far to indicate that the broadening of health insurance coverage across the country is likely to bring about a decrease in ER visits.

The results of the health insurance coverage study were published just as millions of Americans started their new plans.

The research findings are available online at the Science journal’s official website. This information came just as the Affordable Care Act’s increased eligibility for Medicaid for lower income Americans came into effect. There have been some politicians who have pointed out that people who are uninsured and who don’t have a family doctor, or who wait for their conditions to worsen before they seek treatment can now choose to seek more of their care from a doctor’s office instead of the more costly ER visits.

Previous research until this point has seen only conflicting conclusions regarding the impact of a medical plan on ER use. Residents of Massachusetts experienced the expansion of the state Medicaid program far before the rest of the country, as their chances went into place in 2006. This has caused many researchers to look to the state to identify trends that could suggest the future of the program in other states, as well.

This most recent study involved data from the Oregon Medicaid program, as well. It looked into 25,000 randomly selected low income adults who in 2008. Among those who newly received the health insurance coverage, approximately 42 percent visited an ER within an 18 month period. Conversely, among those who remained uninsured, only 35 percent went to the emergency room.

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