Professor of Emergency Medicine and Senior Associate Dean for Faculty and Faculty Development Brian J. Zink, M.D., recently was featured in the Washington Post
Perspectives section, writing about five myths about emergency rooms:
“Americans take it for granted that high-quality emergency care is always there whenever they need it. But the coronavirus outbreak shows that ERs are also where public health problems — such as emerging infections, gang violence or the opioid crisis — often first become evident. Numerous misconceptions persist about these key cogs in our health-care system.”
Uninsured people rely more on emergency care.
In 2016, President Barack Obama touted the benefits of his signature health-care law by saying that before it passed, uninsured people, “when they got sick, they’d have to go to the emergency room.” This notion lives on: “Uninsured people are more likely to rely on the emergency room,” Axios wrotein a recent article.
But a number of peer-reviewed national studies over the past two decades have shown that uninsured patients do not use ERs more than patients with private health insurance, and they use them far less than those on Medicaid do. One study
found that 10 percent of uninsured adults had an ER visit over a one-year time period. For privately insured adults it was 13 percent. Uninsured patients worry about health-care bills and appear to avoid emergency care — or any medical attention at all — until they are desperate. Medicaid recipients use ERs at a higher rate than any other segment of the population: 22 percent per year in the above study. This is mostly because
access to primary care for Medicaid patients remains limited in many parts of the United States.