According to a newly published study evaluating the results of a survey taken by over 230,000 people, Medicaid recipients are at a significantly higher likelihood to have visited an emergency room over the past year instead of seeking health care from their primary care physician.
Published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine, the study showed that about 40 percent of Medicaid patients who had a significant barrier to obtaining primary care had visited the emergency room within the past year. People who have private healthcare insurance and who had the same or similar barriers visited the emergency room about 18 percent within the past year.
While there are numerous types of barriers that can inhibit a person’s ability to speak to or visit their primary care physician, the most often cited were the inability to visit the doctor’s office because of lack of transportation, the inability to make a phone call or speak to the doctor in person, and an inability to visit the doctor’s office during business hours.
If a person had two or more barriers present, there was a much higher chance of that person using the emergency room as their primary means of obtaining medical care. Medicaid patients with two or more barriers had a 61 percent chance of having visited the ER within the past year, while private insurance patients had a 29 percent chance.
However, the significant barrier is not the only factor that leads Medicaid patients to have a higher likelihood of visiting the emergency room. In general, Medicaid patients tend to be of poorer health, and because of this they need more medical attention than those on private insurance.