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How Does Health Insurance Coverage Affect Emergency Room Visits?

Image: Chris.Violette under CC 3.0

It is commonly believed that the lack of affordable health insurance results in more emergency room visits, many of which could otherwise have been avoided. However, a recent study shows that isn’t always true.

Here are some facts about the ER and insurance status:

  • Those who are between the ages of 18 and 44 and uninsured are more likely to have gone to the emergency room in the past year than those with private health insurance.
  • On the other hand, insurance status has no impact on how often the 45-64 age group visits the ER.
  • Children under age 18 also have similar rates of emergency visits.
  • Strangely, low-income individuals and families on Medicaid are more likely to resort to multiple emergency treatments than those with no insurance at all! This does not bode well for the prospects of healthcare reform, which will bring millions of new people into the fold through that government program–as well as through other means.

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