Emergency Room “Frequent Fliers” Have Health Insurance

A survey of the literature found 85% of emergency room “frequent fliers” have health insurance.  Most of these had seen a primary care physician in the past year.

Sixty percent of frequent ER users (four or more visits per year) were enrolled in public coverage — either Medicaid or Medicare — compared with only 36% of occasional emergency room users.

Comments (7)

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  1. Virginia says:

    I wonder what the age and income distribution is among these people. It makes sense that an elderly person in poor health would visit much more often.

    But what are the other precipitating factors? And might we develop other (less expensive) ways of treating frequent fliers?

  2. Larry C. says:

    Fascinating. The real problem, then, is not lack of insurance. It’s the wrong kind of insurance: government insurance!

  3. Heidi L. Buck says:

    Its all about accountability….or lack of it in this case…..

  4. Ken says:

    I agree with Larry. Also, it appears that putting more people into Medicaid (as Obama Care would do) will only make the problem worse.

  5. Devon Herrick says:

    Under the health care legislation, 32 million uninsured individuals will get health coverage — 16 million of which will be newly eligible for Medicaid.

    Numerous studies have found that the uninsured uses only half the care of their insured counterparts. This suggests the 32 million newly-insured individuals will double their health care consumption. In the short run the supply of physicians is rather inelastic and cannot be expanded rapidly.

    Higher demand for physician care with a fixed supply of physicians will either drive up the price of a physician visit; or lead to a shortage available appointment slots. The price of a physician visit isn’t likely to rise much under Medicaid or Medicare (Medicaid reimbursements will rise for only two years before falling back to previous levels, while Medicare payments to Advantage plans and other services will be cut by $523 billion over a decade). The inevitable result is a severe shortage of physicians willing to see Medicare and Medicaid patients.

    If more than half of frequent ER visitors are Medicaid and Medicare enrollees, how much worse will it be once 16 million additional Medicaid people swell Medicaid rolls and half a trillion dollars is cut from Medicare fees?

  6. Linda Gorman says:

    Experiments with requiring relatively small copays for ER use show that they reduce it. For the most part, Medicaid copays are absurdly low and have not been adjusted for inflation since the program’s inception.

  7. Nancy says:

    Is it possible that being on Medicaid is wore than being uninsured?