A recently released study shows that most Medicaid recipients do not use hospital emergency rooms for routine care, but instead only visit for emergencies. The study found that, contrary to popular notions about Medicaid patients clogging hospital emergency rooms for regular healthcare treatments, Medicaid recipients typically only go for serious problems such as breathing trouble, high fevers, and other medical emergencies.
Medicaid provides health care coverage to about 58 million Americans, the vast majority of whom are poor. The study was conducted by the Center for Studying Health Systems, a nonpartisan organization that studies healthcare. The study found that one out of every 10 minutes a patient uses emergency room facilities for routine or non-urgent medical care. On the other hand, one out of every 14 people with employer provided healthcare insurance, or those who purchase their own healthcare insurance, use the emergency room for non-urgent care.
With the Supreme Court’s recent decision to uphold the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, some critics have claimed that the Medicaid expansion provisions of the law would lead to clogged emergency rooms. The Medicaid portion of the health care reform law would bring an estimated 15 million additional people into the Medicaid program if all states adopt the expansion. However, the Supreme Court ruled that states could opt-out of the Medicaid expansion in its recent decision upholding the law. Since then several state governors have indicated they will not expand their state’s Medicaid provisions as the law provides.