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Who's packing ERs? Not the uninsured

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Who's packing ERs? Not the uninsured

Reuters

One in five people in the United States visit an emergency room every year, and most of them have health insurance of some kind, according to a U.S. government survey released on Wednesday.

The survey contradicts a common perception that emergency rooms are packed with uninsured people and illegal immigrants. It also rejects some claims that people are using the emergency department for routine care -- just 10 percent of visits were for non-urgent causes.

"In 2007, approximately one in five persons in the U.S. population had one or more emergency department visits in a 12-month period," the report from the National Center for Health Statistics reads.

"Among the under-65 population, the uninsured were no more likely than the insured to have had at least one emergency department visit in a 12-month period."

Tamyra Carroll Garcia and colleagues at the center used two large national surveys of healthcare use in 2007 for their study.

"Since 1996, demand for emergency services in the United States has been rising," they wrote.

"While the number of emergency departments (EDs) across the country has decreased, the number of ED visits has increased. As a result, EDs are experiencing higher patient volume and overcrowding, and patients seeking care are experiencing longer wait times," they added.

"As national health care costs continue to rise and policymakers become increasingly interested in ways to make the health care system more efficient, it is important to understand the characteristics of those individuals who use EDs -- often in place of other sources of ambulatory care."

They found that the more income people had, the less likely they were to ever visit an emergency room. People over 75 and blacks were the most likely to visit emergency rooms.

The American College of Emergency Physicians published a survey this month showing that 61 percent of emergency doctors surveyed believe U.S. healthcare reform will send even more people to emergency departments.

Only 1 percent of the 1,800 doctors surveyed thought visits would decrease. And 47 percent said the reforms signed into law in March would worsen overcrowding in emergency rooms.

"It's important to note the report finds that having a usual source of medical care, such as a primary care provider, does not affect the number of times people under age 65 visit the emergency department," Dr. Angela Gardner, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians, said of Wednesday's report.

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Who's packing ERs? Not the uninsured

"Among the under-65 population, the uninsured were no more likely than the insured to have had at least one emergency department visit in a 12-month period."

So in other words, the uninsured are just as likely to go to the ER as the insured, which equates to a whole hell of a lot of people including illegals who I have to pay for.

Yeah, that's nice.

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Saying 'illegals aren't packing the ERs and most people who go there have insurance' is a major DUH! 340 million people, reportedly 12 million illegals, do the math.

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Saying 'illegals aren't packing the ERs and most people who go there have insurance' is a major DUH! 340 million people, reportedly 12 million illegals, do the math.

If you read the article, it doesn't talk about absolute numbers, which of course is pointless.

"Among the under-65 population, the uninsured were no more likely than the insured to have had at least one emergency department visit in a 12-month period."

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If you read the article...

OK- I re-read it, twice.

To my eye, it's typical of a Gov-issued report: a mix of questionably-related statistics:

> 1 in 5 go to the ER & 'most' of those 5 have insurance.

> The uninsured & the insured visit in like frequencies.

> Demand for the ER is rising, but there are fewer ERs and longer waits.

> The majority of doctors believe Obamacare will increase ER visits.

> The richer you are, the less likely you visit the ER.

I just do not see the point of the article, period.

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This line stood out to me:

It also rejects some claims that people are using the emergency department for routine care -- just 10 percent of visits were for non-urgent causes.

This ignores the fact that people without insurance are less likely to seek out treatment for an illness before it gets to emergency status.

The number I would want answered is: "How many of the uninsured received emergancy treatment for something that started off as a minor illness and was left untreated until the ER visit?"

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This line stood out to me:

This ignores the fact that people without insurance are less likely to seek out treatment for an illness before it gets to emergency status.

The number I would want answered is: "How many of the uninsured received emergancy treatment for something that started off as a minor illness and was left untreated until the ER visit?"

A quick search at Health Affairs revealed the following: http://content.healthaffairs.org/cgi/content/full/25/5/w324

I've only done a quick ctrl+f, but this quote stands out:

"Rates of uninsurance. By contrast, increases in uninsurance rates are unlikely to result in net increases in ED visit rates. Although uninsured people rely on EDs to a greater extent than insured people do because of a lack of access to other outpatient care, their actual use of hospital EDs is no greater than that of the privately insured, probably because fear of incurring the entire cost of an ED visit acts as a constraint on how frequently they visit EDs."

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This line stood out to me:

This ignores the fact that people without insurance are less likely to seek out treatment for an illness before it gets to emergency status.

The number I would want answered is: "How many of the uninsured received emergancy treatment for something that started off as a minor illness and was left untreated until the ER visit?"

I was thinking that too...

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The bulk of what "you are paying for illegals" is actually driven by the hospital's ridiculous, inconsistent, and unregulated pricing structures. The hospitals charge whatever they want and insanely over inflate all their prices for everything. They will do stupid stuff like charge $30 for the paper cup your medication was administered in. This all adds up to astronomically high medical bills that people simply cannot pay if they are uninsured. If the bills were more reasonable, they could perhaps get into some sort of payment plan, but when they hammer someone with a $40k bill for a couple of days in a hospital (this happened to me personally, when I had a brief gap in insurance when I was between jobs).

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Even if people have an idea of what reasons should really send them to the ER, if they or loved ones fall ill and they panic they are going to go to the ER, plus it could be in the middle of the night. They would have to have lots more clinics around opening 24/7 

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