Frequent ER use dropped after the ACA

Frequent ER use dropped after the ACA

The odds of being a frequent user of California’s emergency departments dropped in the two years following the implementation of major provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in January 2014, according to a new study led by UC San Francisco.

In a health-records study of nearly 14 million patients who visited a California emergency department (ED) at least once from 2012 to 2015–involving 24.5 million visits–the researchers found that the odds of being a frequent ED user declined for patients on Medicaid and the uninsured after the ACA implementation.

Overall, 6.6 million patients visited a California emergency department in the two years prior to the ACA and 7.1 million visited an ED in the two years following it. In 2012-2013, nearly 7.9 percent of those, or 522,576 patients, were frequent visitors, commonly defined as those who visit at least four times per year. After Medicaid and other coverage was expanded, those numbers rose to 8.5 percent, or 604,376 patients, in 2014-2015. Frequent users were responsible for 30.7 percent of all visits before the legislation and 31.6 percent after coverage was expanded.

Source: Frequent use of the ER fell after the Affordable Care Act


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