A friend of mine pointed out this article about the rising numbers of ER visits.
The quote that caught her attention was this one:
The survey by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also found most people who visited emergency rooms had private health insurance, although the uninsured were twice as likely to use emergency services as people with insurance.That didn't make sense to me. How can most people that visit the ER have insurance, yet the uninsured are twice as likely to use the ER?
So I looked up the actual report put out by the CDC.
There's a few things that Ms. Maggie Fox at Yahoo!News neglected to mention. She said that
The report found that 46 million of the visits made to ERs in 2005 were by people with insurance, compared to 19 million by people without insurance.
She neglected to mention that there were 19 million visits made by people on Medicare, and nearly 29 million visits by people on Medicaid.
With reimbursement rates being what they are, I think that those 50 million people might impact the uninsured/insured issue just a bit.
The article says,
"People with no insurance are twice as likely to use the emergency
department as the privately insured."
But according to the statistics, people with private insurance use the ER for 6.6% of their visits and primary care docs for 53.4%, while uninsured people use the ER for 27.8% of their visits and primary care docs for 33.6% . That means that percentage wise, uninsured people are actually four times more likely to use the ER than insured people, and they are nearly as likely to go to the ER as a primary care doc.
There's a lot of statistics that you can cherry-pick to your heart's content. But the underlying message is quite disturbing.