Number of Calif. Kids Admitted to EDs Rose by 11% in Five Years
The number of California children who were admitted to an emergency department increased by 11% between 2005 and 2010, according to a research letter published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, HealthDay reports (Haelle, HealthDay, 10/14).
Details of Research Letter
For the letter, researchers analyzed all ED visits by individuals under age 18 to non-federal acute care hospitals in California from 2005 to 2010. The researchers did not include:
- Admissions that did not come from the ED;
- Records that did not identify a child's gender;
- Scheduled admissions; and
- Visits covered by Medicare (JAMA, 10/15).
In addition, the study did not examine the reasons for ED admissions.
The study was funded by NIH and the California HealthCare Foundation, which publishes California Healthline.
Researchers found that 2.8 million California children visited the ED in 2010, compared with 2.5 million in 2005 -- an 11% increase.
ED admissions increased among children in all insurance categories. Specifically, visits increased by:
- 23% among uninsured children;
- 15% among privately insured children; and
- 7% among children covered by Medi-Cal, the state's Medicaid program.
Children with Medi-Cal coverage accounted for 44% of all visits, according to the research letter.
Lead researcher Renee Hsia said it was surprising that the rate of ED visits among uninsured children outpaced visits by children insured by Medi-Cal.
Hsia also noted, "People tend to think privately insured individuals have access to primary care and therefore go to the emergency department less often. Our study shows that even privately insured children do go to the emergency department quite frequently and that their rate of utilization is increasing faster than even those on Medicaid."
While the study took place before the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, Hsia said it is likely that the numbers would be similar. She said, "The ACA increases insurance coverage but does not significantly address issues about access to care, whether it is primary care or emergency care. It is important to remember that insurance coverage does not equate to access to health care" (HealthDay, 10/14).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.