Expanded Medicaid coverage boosted visits to emergency departments, finds study

BMJ 2014; 348 doi: (Published 10 January 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:g121
  1. Michael McCarthy
  1. 1Seattle

Patients newly insured under an expansion of the Medicaid program increased their visits to hospital emergency departments by 40%, a new study has shown.

The findings challenge the claim that providing uninsured people with health insurance will, by giving them access to more appropriate primary care services, reduce their use of costly emergency room care.

In the study, published in Science,1 Sarah Taubman, of the National Bureau of Economic Research in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and colleagues looked at changes in use of emergency departments after the state of Oregon implemented a limited expansion of its Medicaid program in 2008.

To determine who would get access to expanded coverage, the state used …

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