Change in health insurance status linked to ED use

AHA News

Newly insured adults and newly uninsured adults are both more likely to use the emergency department (ED) than those whose health insurance status has not recently changed, according to a March 26 study in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Based on responses to the 2004-2009 National Health Interview Survey, the study found newly insured adults had 32% higher ED use than continuously insured adults and that newly uninsured adults had 39% higher ED use than continuously uninsured adults.

“In theory, newly insured adults should have new access to primary care services for acute and preventive care needs, resulting in decreased need for ED services; however, our results indicate increased use of ED services,” the authors state. “One possible explanation is that, during the prior uninsured state, individuals may necessarily defer care, leading to a period of increased ‘catch-up’ use of health care services. Also, reducing the financial barrier to care by obtaining health insurance without addressing other barriers to primary care may encourage patients to use the ED when there is a lack of access to others sites of care.”

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Topic: Advocacy and Public Policy

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