EDs seeing more affluent patients, less uninsured

Here's a study that flies in the face of what we've been reading elsewhere. According to new research published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine, emergency departments are actually seeing a growing percentage of affluent patients, while the number of uninsured patients is falling. Researchers found that uninsured patients accounted for 15.5 percent of visits in 1996-97, but only 14.5 percent of visits in 2003-04.  Meanwhile, the number of visits by higher-earning people with incomes of more than 400 percent of the poverty level grew from 21.9 percent to 29 percent during the comparable period. Wow. That is a stunning reversal from the conventional wisdom. So, if the uninsured aren't the biggest cash drain on EDs, what's really going on?

To learn more from the study:
- read this Modern Healthcare piece (reg. req.)

Related Articles:
CDC report backs emergency department overcrowding charges. ED report
Case study: California hospitals help emergency department "frequent fliers." ED report
Hospitals charge fee for non-emergency ED visits. ED report
CMS faces ED overcrowding scrutiny. ED report

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