Newly-insured still use ED often in Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, health planners are being reminded that it's not so easy to change consumer health behavior, even if you give consumers health insurance. Roughly two years after the enactment of a 2006 law requiring virtually every citizen to have health coverage, thousands of newly-insured state residents are still relying on hospital emergency departments for routine medical care, according to a new analysis.

The analysis, which was done by an area newspaper, notes that patients who are newly covered by state-subsidized insurance plans are continuing to use the ED at a rate 14 percent higher than Massachusetts residents overall. Moreover, state-subsidized patients with the lowest incomes--who had previously gotten free care in EDs--use EDs at a rate 27 percent higher than the state average, the research concluded.

These comparatively high rates of ED usage have continued despite the fact that many medical centers have added telephone help lines, counselors and social workers to their ED staff to help uninsured patients get coverage and find a primary care doctor.

To learn more about this trend:
- read this article from the Boston Globe

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