Thursday, January 2, 2014

Medicaid Insured Use Emergency Rooms 40% More Than The Uninsured

From The Wall Street Journal, "Putting the Uninsured on Medicaid Doesn't Cut ER Visits: Study Finding Increased Use Contradicts View of Health-Overhaul Backers" by Melinda Beck:
Some supporters of the health-care overhaul say that putting uninsured Americans on Medicaid will reduce costly emergency-room visits by giving them more access to care in other settings. But a new study found just the reverse: Low-income Oregon residents who won Medicaid coverage in a lottery visited ERs 40% more often than those without insurance.

The new Medicaid recipients used ERs more often for all kinds of health issues—including problems that could have been treated in doctor's offices during business hours, according to the study published Thursday in the journal Science. Getting care elsewhere wasn't a problem. Earlier studies found the same patients used more medical services across the board.

"Now we know--the hope that Medicaid will save money turns out not to be correct, at least in the first two years," said Amy Finkelstein, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist and a principal investigator of the study.

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