Uninsured patients aren’t overusing the ER

In a Health Affairs study from Harvard University, University of Chicago and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, researchers challenged the conventional thinking that uninsured patients are driving up healthcare costs for other populations by going to the emergency room whenever they need medical care.

The study found 12.2 percent of the uninsured made a visit in the ER in 2013. That was higher than the privately insured (11.1 percent made a ER visit that same year), but much lower than those on Medicaid, 29.3 percent of which visited an ER in 2013.

Outpatient care, the study authors found, may be the real problem: 41.8 percent of the uninsured made a visit to a setting like a primary care physician in 2013—far less than the privately insured (76.7 percent) or those on Medicaid (74.5 percent).

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