"This is one reason why emergency physicians are saying emergency visits are going to increase, despite healthcare reforms that increase payments to primary care physicians."
The new emergency room report, issued by the National Center for Health Statistics, says that the demand for emergency room care has been increasing since 1996, resulting in EDs experiencing higher patient volume, overcrowding, and longer wait times.
The report drew these conclusions:
- Among children and adults age 45-64, the uninsured were no more likely than those with private insurance to have had at least one ED visit in a 12-month period, but among adults 18-44, the uninsured were more likely than those without private insurance to have at least one ED visit.
- One in five people had one or more ED visits in a 12-month period.
- Older adults—those aged 75 and over—were more likely to have had at least one ED visit in a 12-month period than younger people.
- Non-Hispanic blacks were more likely to have had one or more ED visits in a 12-month period than non-Hispanic white or Hispanic people.
- As family income increased, the likelihood of having one or more ED visits in the past year decreased.
The report also said that 10% of ED visits by persons under age 65 were considered non-urgent, but those people were triaged as non-urgent at similar rates among the uninsured, persons with Medicaid, and those with private insurance.
Cheryl Clark is senior quality editor and California correspondent for HealthLeaders Media. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists.