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Study: More Uninsured People Using Emergency Rooms For Basic Care

By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Hospitals in the Philadelphia area are reporting an increase in the number of people seeking medical care in emergency rooms. That’s seen as a sign that there are more uninsured people using E.R.’s for basic care.

An analysis by the Delaware Valley Healthcare Council found E.R. visits up by more than two percent, last year, or nearly 4,000 visits.

“We’re still unfortunately feeling the ripple effect from that economic downturn.”

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avg daily ed visits 2010 vs 2011 Study: More Uninsured People Using Emergency Rooms For Basic Care

Graphic shows a rise in Emergency Department visits. (Credit: Delaware Valley Healthcare Council)

Click here to download graphic. (PDF)

Legislative services director Brian Eury says the recession left many people uninsured and turning to E.R.’s,  but two other events made the situation worse, “One was the expiration of Adult Basic.”

Last February, the state ended the insurance program for low-income Pennsylvanians. Blue Cross, which administered the program, offered a replacement, but, without state funds, it cost about four times more.

Eury says most Adult Basic customers remain uninsured. “Three out of 10 that came off Adult Basic went into commercial markets or other public offerings. Seven out of 10 did not.”

Eury says a semi-annual Medicaid review, begun by the Corbett administration in July, also left thousands uninsured while their cases were reviewed.

Most were re-enrolled, but state Senator Vincent Hughes says they never should have lost coverage. “We should keep those individuals covered while we do the review, especially since there’s so very little abuse. Those handful of people who should not be in the program, they’re hurting everybody else in the process.”

Senator Hughes says he’d like to see the state reverse course on both, “That way we can minimize the number of people using emergency room services, understanding that emergency room care is the most costly care.”

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  • Richard Adams

    I mistakenly went to the ER instead of a 24 hour clinic, I received a $2400 bill for seeing a doctor for 5 minutes. I used a hospital bill negotiation service they were able to lower the bill to $900, which I was happy with. Though I recommend clincis unless it is a TRUE emergency.

  • notmd

    Many of the people who are uninsured could be enrolled in medicaid so why aren’t they?..would you fill out paperwork that provided personal information versus receiving charity bills,no hassles?..hospitals are continually hounded to provide more charity care however we are actually hurting the long term care of that patient..they are not assigned a PCP that improve the quality of care and reduce e/r visits..the unintended consequences of charity care is enormous..

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