A study coauthored by MIT economics professor Amy Finkelstein shows that newly health-insured adults are more likely to visit emergency rooms than their uninsured peers. The study, published earlier this month, used data from a 2008 Medicaid expansion program in Oregon and found that the newly insured visited ERs about 40 percent more often. Researchers looked at emergency department records over an 18-month period for about 25,000 low-income adults, some of whom were randomly selected in a lottery to receive Medicaid.
Millions of Americans are now eligible for Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, and analysts have suggested that expanded coverage could reduce visits to urgent care—and thus overall healthcare costs—by giving more people cheaper access to primary care physicians and preventive care. This study opens the door to further work. “We should not view [use of] the emergency room as a failure of our health-care system,” economist Amitabh Chandra told the MIT News. “The big unanswered question is, ‘Which effect is causing them to go to the emergency room?’”
Explore Professor Finkelstein’s research in the Open Access Articles collection in DSpace@MIT, where it is openly accessible to the world.
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