CDC Report: Most ED Visitors Have Insurance, Need Emergency Care
Most emergency department visitors in 2007Â had health insurance and required emergency services, according to a recent data brief from the National Center for Health Statistics at CDC, Reuters reports.
The findings challenge a common assumption that the ED population is composed primarily of uninsured individuals seeking routine care.
The report -- based on two national studies of health care utilization in 2007 -- found that one in five U.S. residents visited an ED that year (Fox, Reuters, 5/19).
Researchers also found that individuals with higher incomes and those who rated their health as "very good or excellent" were less likely to visit an ED than individuals with lower incomes and those who rated their health as "fair or poor."
Medicaid Beneficiaries' ED Use
Medicaid beneficiaries were the most likely to visit the ED multiple times across one year compared with privately insured and uninsured individuals. Additionally, Medicare beneficiariesÂ also enrolled in Medicaid were more likely to visit the ED one or more times annually than those who were not enrolled in Medicaid.
Increased utilization among Medicaid beneficiaries might reflect higher rates of disability and chronic conditions among this population.
Urgency, Access to Primary Care
NCHS also found that only 10% of ED visits by individuals 65 and younger were classified as nonurgent in 2007, dispelling a common perception that individuals use the ED to access routine care services.
Furthermore, individuals younger than age 65 with and without access to primary care were equally likely to visit the ED at least once a year. However, adults ages 65 and older with access to primary care were more likely to visit the ED across a 12-month period, compared with individuals who lacked primary care access (NCHS data brief, May 2010).
The report also determined that:
- Uninsured individuals were no more likely to be triaged as nonurgent compared with privately insured individuals or thoseÂ enrolledÂ inÂ Medicaid (Brophy Marcus, USA Today, 5/19);
- Uninsured and insured children were equally likely to visit the ED at least once across a 12-month period;
- Uninsured and insured adults ages 45 to 64 were equally likely to visit the ED at least once across a 12-month period; and
- Uninsured adults ages 18 to 44 were more likely than those with private insurance to have had at least one ED visit (NCHS data brief, May 2010).