April 29, 2011

ER Visits Up and Climbing

A new report from the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) shows that ER visits are climbing. But that's not the whole story. What's revealing is that 97% of the ER doctors surveyed said they were treating patients on a daily basis who were either on Medicaid or they were sent by their primary care doctors.

That means the rise ER usage is not tied to lack of insurance, but rather proof of the fact that Medicaid patients don't have access to primary care doctors and that primary care doctors are not serving insured patients for the services and at the time of day they require.

What does that mean in the Big Picture? Unfortunately, it means the new health care law, the Affordable Care Act, could exacerbate rather than alleviate the problem. If Massachusetts is any indication, we're in for a rough ride.